Hundreds of homes lie empty in Wakefield for two years despite housing shortage

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Hundreds of homes lie empty in Wakefield, despite a shortage of affordable housing in the city.

A provisional council report says that 1,500 properties across the district have been unoccupied for at least six months. The situation has been described as an unaffordable “waste” by the scrutiny group tasked with analysing the issue.

While most homes that lie empty are in the process of being bought and sold, some 500 have been uninhabited for two years or more.

The  majority of the properties are in the private sector.

Speaking in the report, the paper’s author Councillor Glenn Burton said: “Leaving homes empty is a waste. The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board’s view is that we cannot afford to waste such properties given the shortage of affordable homes.

“There are no longer empty property hotspots in the district or problems with the abandonment of terraced properties. The market is good and empty properties at the lower level council tax band soon fill up. There is no reason why a property should be empty more than two years.”

Part of the council’s strategy for tackling the problem is to help landlords to improve homes to make them fit for sale or let, the paper says.

However, Wakefield does have a lower proportion of empty homes than anywhere else in West Yorkshire.

The charity Empty Homes said that the issue was widespread.

Campaign manager Chris Bailey said that a lack of government support for social housing in parts of northern England had made the problem a regional one.

He said: “The under investment is a short sighted policy given the acknowledged national housing crisis and the high costs associated with housing shortages. Most of these costs are of course as high in Wakefield as they are in Westminster.

“The situation across Yorkshire and Humber is worse in general than the majority of southern areas.”