Senior council officer warns against empty homes fair idea

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A senior Wakefield Council officer has warned council decision-makers against an idea to create a so-called “empty properties fair”.

A report which went before councillors suggested the authority held an event next year to help market some of the city’s 4,000 derelict homes to potential buyers or investors.

The authority’s environment scrutiny committee met to discuss the report which said that, while the council had helped reduce the number of empty properties in the iast few years, there were still around 1,500 that had been empty for more than six months.

READ: Wakefield could host 'empty homes fair' to advertise derelict homes

But the council’s housing and neighbourhood improvement officer Gary Radford told the meeting that the authority had hosted an empty homes fair before, but it didn’t work.

He said: “The last time we tried to do one of these, it wasn’t very successful. We had very few investors or empty property owners.

“With events like this, the owners want to get the best price and the investors want to get a bargain. That was shown as a result of the first fair.

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“An empty fair is something we don’t want to consider at this time, but we are always looking at the way we do things.

“One thing that has worked well is that we have a list of investors and developers always looking at how they can tap into the empty property market.

“When empty property owners tell us they want to sell a property, we will put them in touch with each other.

“These are trusted investors – people we know are going to be doing something with the properties.

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“We don’t want people just to buy a property, bank it and never do anything with it. These are people who genuinely do want to bring these properties back into use.”

The local authority enforces hikes in council tax on properties left unfilled for two years or more, in a bid to encourage landlords to take action. The report adds: “Empty homes are a wasted resource, particularly today when there is a shortage of available homes to both buy and rent.”