North East Wales

Owners of rundown Flintshire properties could be forced to sell

Owners of dilapidated, empty properties in Flintshire could be forced to sell them under new council plans.

The enforced sales policy aims to cut the number of vacant buildings in the county from its current total of 469.

Flintshire council said if the plans were approved it could put properties up for auction to pay off debts, such as council tax arrears, and then they could be reoccupied.

The authority's cabinet is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposals.

The council said it was one of the first counties in Wales to have an empty homes development officer and a specific pot of money to support the renovation and refurbishment of rundown properties.

Councillor Helen Brown, cabinet member for housing, said: "If this policy is approved the council can start bringing more vacant properties back into use, with the added benefit of recovering debts owed.

"It is no longer acceptable for properties to remain empty when the need for housing is increasing.

"With this policy the council can begin moving forward to address the issue of vacant homes whilst also recovering monies it is owed."

The council said the new policy would allow it to put long-term vacant properties up for auction to pay off relevant debts, allowing it to then work with the new owner to ensure its reoccupation.

The debts could include council tax arrears, social care charges and any other debt for work carried out and funded by the council.

The only way the property owner could prevent a sale would be to repay the debt, the council added.

It said the policy would be used as a last resort after all other avenues had failed.

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