MORE than 600 long-term empty homes across Bolton have been brought back into use over the past eight months.
Now, during national Empty Homes Week, which runs this week, the authority is calling on more landlords and property owners to use the Empty Homes Team’s services to further reduce the number of vacant properties in the borough.
Since February, the team has proactively contacted owners whose properties have been empty for more than six months outlining the range of help on offer. Anyone who owns a property, which has been empty for more than six months, can apply for an interest free loan of up to £20,000 from the council to bring it up to a suitable standard for rental.
The council can also help owners through its online Matchmaker Scheme which matches empty homes with potential buyers.
The team also offers advice about how to rent out properties through the Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme.
When landlords refuse to take action and the empty property is causing a nuisance to others, the council would look to use enforcement action to help bring the property back into use.
Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Cllr Nick Peel, said: “We are working hard to reduce vacant properties in the borough.
“An empty home is a wasted home and can often have a negative impact on local communities.
“Sometimes owners are really struggling and which is why our team is here to help. We always try and work with landlords first but if after repeated contact they don’t take action and the empty property is causing an issue, we will look to use our enforcement powers.
“We would always rather work with the landlord and our dedicated Empty Homes team can provide advice, support and resources to turn empty properties into homes.
“The results speak for themselves, with more than 600 homes brought back into use in just seven months.”
Homeowner Neil Porter was struggling to sell his empty property in Westhoughton.
The home had been empty for more than seven years and was in a state of disrepair.
He was contacted by the Empty Homes team, and following their advice and support, his property is now up for sale.
Mr Porter said: “Thanks to the help I received I have brought my long term empty property back into a habitable condition with a comprehensive refurbishment.
“I was a lot more proactive after I discussed the various options available with the team and the advice I received was invaluable.
“The property is now being actively marketed with a local agent with a sale pending.”
In September, The Bolton News reported that the latest council tax information indicated that there were 4,771 properties in the borough identified as being empty.
At the time, council chiefs said they were planning to bring another 113 properties back into use over the course of the next year.
Landlords or homeowners can find out more about the help available by contacting the Empty Homes Team on 01204 338921 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.