Almost 2,000 privately-owned empty properties brought back into use in Wolverhampton

Almost 2,000 privately-owned empty properties in Wolverhampton have been brought back into use for families by council workers.

The Empty Property Strategy, launched in 2010, has seen more than 1,900 unoccupied houses brought back into use over 11 years.

The effort by Wolverhampton Council was revealed as part of the national Empty Homes Week which runs until Sunday this week.

Councillor Jacqueline Sweetman, cabinet member for city assets and housing, said: "Our action on empty homes is providing more affordable housing to people in Wolverhampton.

"The properties we have become involved with have often stood empty for many years and, as a result, the condition of them has deteriorated dramatically.

"Our strategy is helping to put these houses back on the market – either to sell or rent – and this in turn is having a positive effect in the areas they are in.

"In addition, it means landlords are once again seeing rental income come in and the value of their properties increase, while local shops and services are benefiting from new residents occupying the houses – providing a significant boost to the local economy.

"This ongoing work is the equivalent of us building hundreds of new houses across the city - and we will continue to focus our efforts on empty houses in the city of Wolverhampton."

Council chiefs aim to ensure the properties, instead of becoming a blight on the neighbourhood, are either sold to new homeowners or rented out to tenants.

Specialist housing improvement officers have worked with the owners of the properties to encourage and support them to carry out any required works to get them occupied again.

If necessary and as a last resort, the authority can use enforcement action to ensure this work takes place. The council also offers grants of up to £500 to encourage more owners of empty properties to act.

The cash boost either helps owners with legal or agent fees to sell their property – or provide an incentive to rent it under the Private Sector Leasing (PSL) Scheme, a hassle-free property management service run in association with Wolverhampton Homes.

The public can get further help and information on private sector housing issues by contacting the council on 01902 551155 or by visiting www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/housing

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