Long wait for housing in Sandwell as thousands of homes sit empty

Residents in a Black Country borough are desperate for housing as properties lie empty across much of the area.

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Stock photo

Sandwell Council had 3,187 empty residential properties as of September 6, according to council tax records.

This includes all privately owned, privately rented and social housing across the borough, and includes everything empty for just one day up to those empty for over 10 years.

Meanwhile 10,004 people were waiting for a residential property on the council’s housing list as of September 6, with 3,574 of these current tenants and 6,430 non-current tenants.

The figures were revealed after a Freedom of Information request submitted in August.

Meanwhile people in need of a two-bed council house are facing long waits.

The average wait for a two-bed council house in West Bromwich is seven years, a separate Freedom of Information request revealed.

A two-bed flat in Wednesbury requires a three-year average wait and a two bed maisonette in Smethwick requires an 18-month average wait.

Polly Neate, chief executive, Shelter said: “Every day at Shelter we help people who are bearing the enormous costs of our housing emergency.

“So, it is always deeply frustrating to see properties sitting empty when so many people are in desperate need of a safe and secure home.

“However, we could fill every one of these properties and we still wouldn’t have solved the chronic housing shortage we face. More should be done to put empty homes to use, but, tackling this issue is not an adequate alternative to building more genuinely affordable housing.

“To solve the housing emergency, we need to build a new generation of social homes to give everyone the chance of a stable home.”

A Sandwell Council spokesperson said: “The majority of empty properties in Sandwell are privately-owned and are not council properties. Any empty council properties are generally turned around very quickly once a tenant leaves and a new tenant moves in.

“We have recently launched a review of our empty homes strategy. We recognise that every empty home in Sandwell is a resource that could be used to address the housing needs of our residents.

“This is both a local and national problem that we are determined to tackle. As the majority of empty homes are privately-owned, we already use the powers we have available to add premiums to Council Tax bills and a range of enforcement powers to encourage owners to bring their properties back into use.

“We are also offering support and incentives to private sector landlords to offer their properties to residents in housing need so we would urge them to get into contact with us.”

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