Empty private houses rise as fewer properties brought back into use, Plaid Cymru reveals


Plaid Cymru councillors have expressed growing concern about an increasing number of privately-owned homes lying empty – some for more than a decade.

Latest figures obtained by Plaid Cymru under the Freedom of Information Act show that at the end of March 2019, 1,624 homes in the county borough had been vacant for more than six months – up 64 on the previous year.

In addition, Caerphilly council said that 313 had been empty over five years – up 34 and 128 more than 10 years – a rise of 10. At the same time just 36 properties have been brought back in use with council financial support over 2018-19 – down 10 properties on the previous 12 months.

Financial support from the council to bring homes back into use also fell to just £6,480 over the year.

Councillor Lindsay Whittle, who sits on the Caerphilly Homes Task Group, said: “This is a truly dismal picture with a double whammy of rising numbers of empty properties and fewer homes being brought back into use.

“When so many people are desperate for homes it is a scandal that so many private houses are left empty, some for more than 10 years. At the same time over the past five years the authority has issued just nine demolition, prohibition or abatement notices on empty properties.

“My view is that the council needs to get much tougher on owners of long term empty properties. I’ve also suggested that a bid for funding under the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save scheme should be made. This allows 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.”

Plaid Cymru group leader Colin Mann added: “Plaid Cymru looks at the issue of empty properties every year and the situation seems to get worse not better. People needing homes are being let down.

“All councillors have empty houses in their areas. These are often dilapidated properties, owned by people who don’t care. They have been blighting communities for too long and that is unacceptable. Working with a social landlord may be one way more empty homes can be brought back into use.”