Council vows to turn up the heat on landlords of Wakefield’s empty houses

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Officers at Wakefield Council have vowed to turn up the heat on landlords of empty houses, a meeting has heard.

The authority’s environment scrutiny committee met this week to discuss how to bring the district’s 4,000 empty homes back into use, of which 1,500 have been derelict for more than six months.

Council officer David Fowles told the committee that the state of some empty properties varied wildly, and that the authority was doing all it could to keep the pressure on landlords who allow their houses to go to rack and ruin.

He said: “Some (landlords) see it as a business expense, but we keep the pressure on, we take action and needle away at them and eventually most of them fold and start working with us.”

Mr Fowles claimed the council had limited powers to intervene with derelict housing, and that many owners had sometimes had ’emotional’ reasons for keeping hold of properties.

“You can’t get involved whenever these is an untidy garden or building,” he said.

“You can’t board up every window. “

Fellow housing officer Gary Radford added: “A large percentage of the houses will be dealt with by the market itself. Sometimes they need a bit of help.

“There are empty property owners out there who need a lot of help. The problematic ones will make the biggest impact on an area. We put in a lot of work in working with the owners to address those issues.”