Homeowners and landlords in Bolton are being reminded that they can get free advice and support to bring empty properties back into use.
National Empty Homes Week (November 26 to 30), a campaign run by the Empty Homes Agency, is supported by Bolton Council.
The council offers tailored advice and support to individuals and work closely with landlords to bring empty properties back into use.
The council will also act upon complaints from residents and if owners do not co-operate then the council will use housing powers to tackle the problem.
In February 2010, Bolton Council was the first authority in the north to use a pioneering order to get an empty private home back into use.
The council issued a final Empty Management Dwelling Order (EDMO) to the landlord of a property in Halliwell.
An EDMO gives the council control of the property for seven years, allowing work to be carried out, and the property is then rented out. The cost of the work is then recuperated through the rental income.
More recently, the council has taken control of a property in Marsh Street, in Westhoughton.
The property had been empty for approximately five years and the council received a catalogue of complaints about it from the local community.
The owner did not respond to repeated contact from the council and the owner was then issued with a final EDMO in November 2011. The property has now been renovated and decorated and tenants have moved in. The cost of the refurbishment was around £26,000.
In total, the council has issued two final EDMOs.
Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environment, Regulatory Services, and Skills, Councillor Nick Peel, said: “We actively encourage owners to bring properties back into use.
“There are many reasons why homes are left empty but when properties are empty they can cause considerable issues for our communities. It is important that we all work together to tackle this problem.
“The approach we take is both prevention and intervention. We work closely with landlords to bring an empty property back to use but if an agreement cannot be reached then there are a number of enforcement options available. Serving a final EDMO is a last resort for us but we are committed to bringing in as many homes back into use as we can.”
If you own or know of any empty homes that could be brought back into use, please contact Bolton Council on 01204 336538 or e-mail the empty homes team.