Bolton’s biggest housing provider has said has recruited more people to deal with empty houses and is investing more in its improvement plan.

Earlier this week Cllr Sean Fielding, of Breightmet, said that he had frequently been contacted by people in his area concerned about houses that had been “tinned up” and left empty.

Now Bolton at Home, which manages around 18,000 homes across the borough, has revealed there are currently 18 “tinned up” properties in the Breightmet area but says it has plans to get houses like these occupied again.

Group director of property and place Richard Hargreaves said: “When a tenant moves out of their home, we aim to have it checked, repaired and re-let in as little time as possible.

“We understand it can be concerning when homes remain vacant in our neighbourhoods.

The Bolton News: An empty house on Rochester AvenueAn empty house on Rochester Avenue (Image: Public)

“However, we can reassure tenants that we always have a plan for dealing with them.

“Some empty homes only require minor repairs, but an increasing number need significant work before we're able to offer them to new tenants.

“We sometimes need to bring in specialist surveyors and contractors, which can take time.”

Doors and windows are sometimes boarded up in this way to prevent intruders and according to Bolton at Home they can sometimes take longer to bring up to lettable standards when they need significant repairs.

But vacant homes have long been a cause of concern across the borough in recent years.

According to the most recent census, 7,310 homes stood unoccupied across Bolton as of March 2021.

But as well as housing associations this will also include private houses and those owned by landlords.

Where its own properties are concerned, Bolton at Home says that further planned investments will make sure that less work will be needed in future to turnaround homes that become empty.

Mr Hargreaves said: “Under our plan to reduce turnaround times, we’ve recruited more people to our team that deals with empty properties.

“We’re also investing more money into our improvement programme to upgrade more kitchens, bathrooms, windows and other refurbishments, which should mean less work is required when homes become empty.”

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Cllr Fielding has said that housing remains a key concern for people in his area but that he will continue to campaign for more to be done dealing with vacant properties.  

He said: “The most difficult casework I receive as a councillor relates to rehousing.

“I’ve only had one of about a dozen where I’ve helped somebody find a new house and that was somebody who wanted to go back to family in Plymouth!”

He added: “This is one of those things that I won’t be able to change quickly, but housing is an issue I’ve always cared about and I’ll continue campaigning on it to try and get those who can do something about it to act.”