Hundreds of homes lie empty in Sandwell for years
Almost 300 homes across Sandwell have been empty for at least five years.
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."
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.