ALMOST 1,000 homes lay derelict and empty in Bolton, new figures show.
Data gathered from the council show there are 973 long-term empty houses in the borough.

But the council insists the picture is improving after research found there were 1,362 empty homes just eight months ago. By calculating the median house price for Bolton, analysis at Admiral estimated the homes that have been sat empty in Bolton over the last two-to-four years have a whopping combined valued of £71million. 

But despite being named by Admiral as one of the worst places in Greater Manchester, the council insists the total number of empty homes in Bolton continues to drop year-on-year, with the number of long-term empty houses almost halving since 2010.

A Bolton Council spokesman said the authority is doing everything it can to bring empty homes back into use.

A council spokesperson said: “The number of empty homes changes weekly and some are unoccupied for a short time for reasons such as owners have moved into care homes, properties have been repossessed, or going through probate. 

“This data is from 2018 and our latest data shows that the actual number of long-term empty houses – which have been empty for longer than six months and less than two years – is 973. 

“We have a team that specifically works with long-term empty home owners to help them get their property occupied. And year-on-year, the figure for long-term empty homes is reducing - in 2010 we had 2,980 houses that had been vacant for more than six months.”

Homeowners who leave their properties vacant for more than six months risk facing penalties from the council, with council tax hikes used as a deterrent for leaving a house to crumble. 

This means as the years go by homeowners could face paying council tax of 150% until they either sell the home or take steps to make it habitable. 

A council spokesman said: “Leaving a property empty for long periods of time can result in vandalism, as well as deteriorating both its condition and value.  These issues can have a negative impact on the area and long-term empty properties can also cost the owner money.”

But homeowners who find themselves in that position are urged to check with their local authority about the help that may be available to them, as many offer loans and grants to homeowners as an incentive to keep their homes in a respectable condition. 

The most recent example of a landlord taking advantage of the scheme was just last year when a derelict terraced home in Buckley Lane was transformed into a family home after the Empty Houses were enlisted to help.
By offering the owner an interest-free loan, the home was transformed from a derelict, scruffy shell into a modern family home. 
The Matchmaker Scheme, which matches empty home owners with potential buyers and offers advice about how to rent out properties through the Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme is also available.