More than 1,100 empty homes in Soli­hull, fig­ures show

Solihull News - - NEWS - DAVID IRWIN david. irwin@ reach­plc. com

THERE are more than 1,100 empty homes in Soli­hull, of­fi­cial fig­ures show.

A snapshot of the bor­ough, taken from March this year, re­vealed that there were 553 prop­er­ties which had been un­oc­cu­pied for at least half a year.

A fur­ther 566 had stood empty for less than six months.

De­spite the ef­forts of coun­cil of­fi­cers, the over­all num­ber of empty prop­er­ties had in­creased by more than 70 com­pared with 12 months ear­lier.

Coun­cil­lor James Burn, leader of Soli­hull’s Green group, said that empty proper- ties not only de­prived ar­eas of an as­set, but risked be­com­ing “honey pots for anti- so­cial be­hav­iour.”

He cited cases of gar­dens turning to “jun­gles”, dwellings be­ing used as drugs dens and prob­lems such as damp and an­i­mal in­fes­ta­tions af­fect­ing neigh­bours.

“The Gov­ern­ment could do more to make it eas­ier to bring them back into use,” he said. “We need more tools at our dis­posal.”

He noted that in cases where an author­ity was re­quired to go to court, costs could run into “thou­sands and thou­sands”.

A re­port which went to bor­ough coun­cil­lors yes­ter­day ( Thurs­day) said that work con­tin­ued to deal with the “most prob­lem­atic” cases, with prior- ity given to those dwellings which had been un­oc­cu­pied for a lengthy pe­riod of time.

“Soli­hull has fewer empty homes in com­par­i­son to the other au­thor­i­ties across the West Mid­lands,” said the doc­u­ment.

Some of the most com­mon rea­sons for a prop­erty to have been left empty are that the owner has been ad­mit­ted to a care home or hospi­tal or else passed away, with rel­a­tives in the process of deal­ing with pro­bate.

Less com­mon ex­am­ples in­clude homes where the owner is serv­ing a prison sen­tence, a prop­erty is wait­ing for a “min­is­ter of re­li­gion” to move in or an an­nex that has been left un­oc­cu­pied. These in­stances do not fall un­der the coun­cil’s empty homes strat­egy. Gov­ern­ment fig­ures sug­gest that na­tion­wide there are are now more than 200,000 empty homes, which rep­re­sent £ 50bil­lion worth of va­cant prop­erty stock.

Coun­cil­lor James Burn

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