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Owners of empty properties across Lichfield and Burntwood have been warned that action will be taken to bring homes back into use.
Lichfield District Council estimates that there are 985 vacant addresses across the region – with a third of these exempt from paying council tax.
But Cllr Colin Greatorex insisted the local authority would be prepared to take “enforcement action” if necessary to get people living in the remaining 669 empty homes.
In a report to an overview and scrutiny committee meeting this week, the Cabinet member for housing said: “The majority of these homes have been empty for under six months and are only expected to be empty for a brief period as they are in the process of being sold or re-let.
“To make the best use of limited resources, it is proposed the council take a risk based approach to tackling empty homes.
“Advice and assistance will always be offered to the owners first, which in the vast majority of cases will be sufficient.
“However, in more severe cases when owners are not cooperative, cannot be traced or are unwilling to enter into a voluntary dialogue with us, the council will consider the use of enforcement powers powers available.
“For the small number of empty homes found to be at high risk, the council may decide to take further enforcement action to bring the property back into use and occupation, such as compulsory purchase and enforced sale.”
The issue of vacated properties forms part of the council’s housing strategy.
And Cllr Greatorex insisted buildings standing empty for long periods of time was unacceptable.
“Homes that are left empty for longer periods can be a magnet for vandals, arsonists and other anti-social behaviour,” he said. This can cause deterioration to the property and the community in which it’s located.
“It is these longer term empty homes that are the main focus of our policy.”