Soaring number of empty homes in Sheffield

More than 2,400 homes across the city are empty and have been for a long time, according to official figures.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 2:36 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:30 pm

The total number 2,433 has also risen by more than 400 in the past three years.

The figures were lambasted by opposition councillors who said the council had ‘taken their eye off the ball’.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat leader, said it was shocking but even if all the houses were brought back into use it would not tackle the housing crisis.

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He said: “There’s always a pressure on housing. The Local Plan is still not out which is delaying things. Houses are being left empty for longer, I thought we were on top of it, it seems someone has taken their eye off the ball.

“These are homes people are missing out on and need. Some have just been abandoned and it brings an area down - the longer they are left the more damaged they get and it ends up being a hotspot for antisocial behaviour.

“We need more money to help bring properties back onto the market.”

Sheffield has 750 more unused properties than Doncaster, and 1,271 more than Barnsley.

Of the vacant properties across the city, 632 (26 percent) are council owned.

Coun Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said the council had recently put in place plans to get more houses back into use.

He said: “It’s difficult for a number of reasons, partly because the local authority repairs service has not been able to afford doing up homes. In the private sector the issue is people are poorer and can’t afford to buy or sell a house and others choose not to sell.

“Compulsory purchase orders are really long winded and expensive but we are starting to do more and also increasing council tax on empty properties after one year which is quite good. Under selective licensing we will also be chasing landlords.”

Nationally the number of empty homes has risen by more than 216,000, the highest level since 2012.

The Department for Communities and Local Government say councils had been given a range of powers to tackle empty homes and said it was investing more than £1 billion to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping.