Do more to tackle empty private homes scandal, urges Plaid Cymru

23/08/2018

Urgent action is needed to reduce the more than 1,500 empty privately-owned houses – some lying empty for more than TEN years – in Caerphilly county borough, Plaid Cymru councillors are demanding.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that at the end of March 2018, 1,560 homes in the county borough had been vacant for more than six months, 279 over five years and 118 more than a decade. At the same time over the last two financial years 111 properties have been brought back in use with council financial support.

Councillor Lindsay Whittle, who sits on the Caerphilly Homes Task Group, said: “Action is needed to reduce the number of empty properties. The council could place orders on home owners to force them to spend money on dilapidated houses. Alternatively, they could make a bid for funding under the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save scheme. This would help allow the authority to employ more staff to track down owners and force them to bring houses up to a standard and then sell or let them.

 “The council is also looking at doubling council tax on empty houses but personally I think they should be considering trebling it for those properties that have lain vacant for five or 10 years. Some leeway could perhaps be allowed to elderly home owners, who are in long term care.”

Plaid Cymru group leader Colin Mann added: “There are more houses empty for over six months in Caerphilly than in Cardiff which has a far bigger population and more houses.

“That suggests to me that the council has to do more to tackle this problem which is blighting communities. In my own ward of Llanbradach, I’ve dealt with cases where neighbouring properties have been badly affected by dampness as a result of long-term empty houses.

“Perhaps the council could also work with a registered social landlord to ensure more empty homes are brought back in use,” added Councillor Colin Mann.