CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has been recognised for the way it addresses empty properties.

An Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee report released today by the Welsh Government shows the council sets a good example in actively targeting empty properties in the private sector with an extensive and consistent approach.

In the last year, 189 properties in Carmarthenshire have been brought back into use – the second highest across all 22 local authorities in Wales.

The council has two dedicated officers to address empty properties as well as an action plan. The officers work alongside Simple Letting to help owners bring their properties back into use and to prevent homelessness. These empty properties are also providing more affordable homes, achieving 63 affordable units last year.

Houses into Homes scheme is also available to empty property owners and is delivered by the council on behalf of the Welsh Government. The scheme offers recyclable and interest free loans.

The council’s executive board member for housing, Cllr Linda Evans said: “We have placed strategic importance on bringing empty homes back into use since 2005 with the development and review of a strategy, two dedicated officers posts and an action plan. We have been innovative in our approach, utilising various enforcement powers from Improvement Notices to Empty Dwelling Management Orders. A total of two Interim Empty Dwelling Management Orders resulting in three Final Empty Dwelling Management Orders have been served.  Empty properties affect the county as a whole. They are a blight on local areas, a wasted housing resource and attract anti-social behaviour. We work with empty property owners by providing extensive advice, guidance and financial assistance to bring these properties back into use and provide homes to people who need them.”

The report shows there are around 27,000 private sector homes in Wales that have been empty for more than six months.

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