Just two people take up offer for empty home owners to sell up
A council incentive scheme aimed encouraging empty home owners to sell off or rent out their properties had a much 'much lower' take-up than expected - with just two people set to benefit.
The £50,000 project was launched six months ago by Wolverhampton council to tackle the city's housing problem.
There are 2,289 empty homes in the city.
It offered owners up to £500 to sell homes or rent them out through Wolverhampton Homes, which has a long waiting list of families.
But despite it attracting interest from 326 property owners, just two are going through the process to receive the cash incentive.
According to a report going before the council's cabinet resource panel next week, 42 further home owners could still take advantage of the benefit.
Twenty are considering selling their homes, while 22 are considering renting through Wolverhampton Homes.
The report said: "Take up for the £500 incentive has been much lower than anticipated.
"Most respondents did not meet the criteria or had plans for the property which excluded the property from the incentive."
Spokesman Oliver Bhurrut said: “The intention of the incentive was to target owners who needed a catalyst to make a decision about their empty residential property.
"To qualify for the scheme properties must have been empty for more than six months and the ones that have been left empty for more than two years have been targeted first.
“Strict criteria also had to be met for the property to qualify for the incentive to ensure the exclusion of properties being refurbished for owner occupation, private renting, and those where a sale was already progressing.
“To date the pilot programme has led to constructive engagement with 326 owners, including 126 residents who, following contact from the council, have informed us their property is now occupied."
The council is now looking to continue the project, but reducing its budget from £50,000 to £10,000.
Mr Bhurrut added: “Cabinet Resources Panel on November 14 has been asked to authorise a budget of up to £10,000 for the financial year 2018/19 to continue with a targeted approach to engaging with owners of long-term empty properties.”
Analysis done on the responses to the project found the majority of homes were empty due to ongoing refurbishment for private rent.
This was followed by the homes waiting to be sold, a lack of finance and refurbishment for owner occupation.