Cornwall Council in empty homes strategy
A new housing strategy has been approved in Cornwall to use and repair empty houses in the county.
The Empty Property Strategy will aim to bring 3,597 empty properties in Cornwall back into use.
Cornwall Council said there are currently 18,931 families on the housing waiting list.
The council said a loan system would also be introduced to help landlords and empty property owners bring the properties up to the standard required.
Mark Kaczmarek, the council's cabinet member for housing and planning, said: "There is a huge shortage of housing in Cornwall which is fuelling high house prices and preventing many ordinary local people from affording a decent home."
The council said that using existing properties would reduce the need to build new homes as well as sustain communities.
It also plans to provide interest free loans of up to £20,000 to "make decent" empty properties by carrying out essential repairs and installing basic amenities.
Mr Kaczmarek said: "This will be a balancing act ensuring that owners of empty buildings are encouraged and assisted to return their properties to use but we will not shy away from taking enforcement action if we need to.
"This may include boarding up properties to prevent unauthorised access and carrying out works ourselves to make properties safe and then charging the owner for this work."
The council aims to bring 50 empty homes back into use by March 2011, with a further 300 by 2013.