Hundreds of properties in Wolverhampton that stood empty for years have been transformed into family homes thanks to the efforts of City of Wolverhampton Council.
The council aims to ensure that rather than the properties becoming a blight on their neighbourhood, they are either sold to new homeowners or rented out to tenants.
Specialist Housing Improvement Officers from the council’s Private Sector Housing Team have worked with the owners of properties left empty for a long period of time to encourage and support them to carry out any required works and get them occupied once again.
If necessary and as a last resort, the authority can use enforcement action to ensure this work takes place.
Councillor Peter Bilson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Assets, said: “Not only is it providing more affordable housing to people in Wolverhampton, but it is also improving the city and helping boost the local economy. The properties we have become involved with have often stood empty for many years and, as a result, the condition of them has often deteriorated dramatically. This strategy is helping to put these houses back on the market – either to sell or rent – and this in turn is having a positive effect in the areas they are in. In addition, it means landlords are once again seeing rental income come in, the value of their properties is increasing and local shops and services are benefiting from new residents occupying the houses – providing a significant boost to the economy. This is the equivalent of us building hundreds of new houses across the city and we will continue to focus our efforts on empty houses in Wolverhampton.”
The strategy links in with the council’s wider commitment to enhance the private rented sector in the city.
Other initiatives include the Private Sector Leasing Scheme, a hassle-free property management service run in association with Wolverhampton Homes which can guarantee owners of empty properties rental income for three years, and the Wolverhampton Home Improvement Scheme which offers grants, financial assistance and a handyman service to homeowners aged over 60, on income related benefits or registered disabled.
The council also provides advice and information to owners about becoming a private landlord, renting out their property and bringing empty properties back into use and maintenance issues, and receives reports from the public concerned about an empty property in their area.
In addition, Wolverhampton is set to pioneer the way local authorities work with private landlords by introducing a new five-star rating system next year to improve the quality of housing.
The general public can get further help and information on private sector housing issues by contacting the council on 01902 551155 or by visiting www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/housing. For information about the Wolverhampton Home Improvement Scheme, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/whis.