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Hundreds of homes lie empty in Sandwell for years

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | News | Published:

Almost 300 homes across Sandwell have been empty for at least five years.

Private homes are empty across Sandwell

Figures showed hundreds of private properties were classed as 'long-term vacant' including 83 which have not been lived in for 10 years.

It comes as housing bosses continue to battle a mounting housing waiting list in the borough.

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said the number of empty privately owned properties was 'massively frustrating', particularly as the authority faces a constant challenge to house families, as well as having to find land to build new developments.

Figures published under the Freedom of Information Act showed there are currently a total of 1,087 properties which have been empty for more than six months.

Of these, 666 have been vacant for two years, 214 for five years and 83 for a decade.

Councillor Eling said empty private homes were contributing to a 'national housing crisis'.

He said: "We have got a number of houses sitting empty while other people can't get a home. It is part of this national housing crisis.

"There are lots of empty properties sitting there rotting away. It's an incompatible situation."

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The leader suggested councils should be given powers to take over properties that have been empty for two years so they can be re-used.

He said: "If you take people's properties off them you will get accused of being a despot totalitarian state but on the other hand having all these homes sitting empty when people need somewhere to live is unacceptable. I think we could do with additional powers.

"We need new developments but we also need these empty homes to house people."

Bosses have faced a huge challenge to provide families with council housing, with Sandwell's housing waiting list topping 6,000 last year.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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