CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has praised Wrexham Council after a Welsh Government report ranked it one of the best performing authorities in Wales for bringing empty private sector properties back into use.
According to the Local Authority Services Performance report for 2011/12, which ranks all 22 councils in Wales on a series of indicators, Wrexham brought nearly a quarter of the county’s private sector empty properties back into use, the second best performing council in Wales.
In 2011/12, 24.55% of private sector properties that had been empty for longer than six months were brought back into use thanks to direct action by the local authority, compared to an all Wales average of just 4.62%.
Across Wales, just Torfaen Council performed better.
The AM said authority was a model performer on empty properties which other councils across Wales could follow.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said:
“It’s great news that Wrexham has been recognised as one of the best performing councils in Wales in bringing empty properties back into use. Many local councils struggle to bring empty private sector homes and properties back into use, but Wrexham is leading the way.
“Last year nearly a quarter of private sector properties that had been empty for longer than six months were brought back into use, the third year in a row they have bettered their previous years performance. This compares to a Welsh average of just four and a half percent of such properties being returned to use.
“There are 20,000 empty properties across Wales and if we want to tackle our housing shortage then the problem of empty homes needs to be tackled.
“It’s clear some authorities are not doing a good job in this area and I think it’s time for Wrexham to take a stronger lead in showing other authorities how it can and should be done.
“Homes and properties in Wrexham that are left unoccupied for a long period of time can lead to anti-social behaviour, squatting and vandalism. As empty properties build up problems can escalate and an area can become run-down.
“Clearly Wrexham are keeping on top of this using a strong set of enforcement tools that is really benefiting the local community.”
Notes to Editors:
Private Sector properties that had been empty for longer than six months were brought back into use thanks to direct action by the local authority
County Year %
Wrexham 2011/12 24.55%
Wrexham 2010/11 23.68%
Wrexham 2009/10 19.23%
Local Authority Services Performance report 2011/12 – http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/publicationsevents/publications/lasperf1112/?lang=en
Local authorities have a range of enforcement tools that can be used to deal with empty properties such as:
• Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) – enables local authorities to take management control of privately owned empty homes. There are two types of EDMO, interim and final. Both types may only be used when a dwelling has been empty without good reason for over six months and certain other conditions are met. They are made against the person with the most relevant interest in the dwelling, known as the ‘relevant proprietor’. Sometimes there are good reasons for a property to be empty and there are safeguards to take account of these;
• Enforced Sale procedure (ESP) – The ESP, is used as a last resource and is a process by which a council brings about the sale of a privately owned house. It is used as a means to sell-on a long term vacant property to a new owner, in circumstances where the present owner is either unwilling or unable to deal with the house and its associated problems;
• Compulsory Purchase Orders – If the authority is unable to purchase by agreement because they are unable to agree or it is impractical to do so they will go down the compulsory purchase route.