South West Wales

Derelict homes sell-off planned in Carmarthenshire

Empty homes
Image caption There are about 2,000 empty houses in Carmarthenshire

Owners of empty homes in Carmarthenshire could be forced to sell up under new proposals.

Housing chiefs are planning to introduce enforced sales in a bid to tackle the problem of empty properties and to recover council debts.

The debts includes unpaid council tax and money the council has spent on making derelict houses safe.

Officers said the sales would be "very much a last resort measure".

The plan will be debated by the executive board and full council.

Under the plan, the authority could sell a property and, once all debts and costs are recovered, the remaining proceeds will be placed in an account until the owner makes a claim.

Outstanding charges of about £50,000 are owed from just six empty properties in the county.

The debts can be difficult to recover through the courts because often the owners cannot be found.

In these cases the council can use the Law of Property Act 1925 to enforce the sale of a property.

Carmarthenshire's Head of Housing Services Robin Staines said some positive work has been carried out, further work is needed to tackle the problem.

Affordable housing shortage

"Empty properties are a potentially critical resource for people in housing need in the area," he said.

"The use of enforced sale is a key component of any successful, enforcement approach to tackling problems associated with empty or derelict properties.

"The threat of the enforced sale procedure is often sufficient to encourage owners to pay out any outstanding debts or sell their property.

"It would be very much a last resort measure and each case will be considered on its merits."

Carmarthenshire has about 2,000 empty homes, yet at the same time has a shortage of affordable housing.

Housing Executive Board Member Coun Hugh Evans said: "Empty properties have an impact on local communities.

"They are often an eyesore and can cause public health related problems to neighbouring properties because they are in disrepair, attract vandalism and are venues for anti-social behaviour."

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