Almost 9,000 homes across Nottinghamshire are currently empty or derelict, new figures have revealed.
The statistics, obtained through Freedom of Information requests to eight district councils, show that 8,982 properties are unoccupied across the county.
Some homes are mid-sale or being marketed for either sale or rent, others are in probate, a few are being converted or awaiting demolition and planning consent and others are between tenants and changes of ownership.
Nottingham City has the most empty properties, with 1,443 currently without tenants, whereas the Ashfield district has the least with 712.
All district councils said bringing long-term empty properties, which have been vacant for over six months, back to use is a priority.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, portfolio holder for planning and housing at Nottingham City Council, said: “Many of these properties are privately owned and they are causing a blight on neighbourhoods, falling into disrepair, becoming vandalised and not contributing to the local economy.”
John Wilmott, a member of the Hucknall First Community Forum and county councillor, said the figures were “a scandal”.
“Its a scandal when you hear about all the people that are homeless and all the homes that will be required for a number of refugees that will be coming from scandal,” he added.
However the district councils have hit back and said they are working towards lowering the amount of empty properties.
Rushcliffe and Gedling borough councils, which share a housing strategy officer, charge full council tax for empty properties and also provide advice and support to empty property owners.
There are currently 796 empty homes in Rushcliffe, with 339 of these being empty for more than six months and 1,253 vacant homes in Gedling, with 390 of these being empty for more than six months.
Councillor Richard Butler, portfolio holder for sustainability at Rushcliffe Borough Council, said: “As a council we work to reduce the number of long-term empty properties, including taking enforcement action on owners of property in a dangerous condition.”
Councils can charge up to 50 percent extra council tax if a home has been empty for over two years.
This is something Mansfield District Council does for empty houses in the borough. The authority has also brought 22 long-term empty homes back to use so far this year.
Councillor Barry Answer, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Housing is a key factor in the council’s priorities to provide a vibrant and welcoming district.
“Our commitment to housing, especially tackling issues around vacant properties puts us ahead of authorities in other areas.”
Broxtowe Borough Council, which has 986 empty homes in the district, has been working with an external provider throughout the year to reduce the number of properties that are considered empty.
A spokeswoman said: “Significant work is undertaken to identify properties which are long term empty homes by tracing the owner, which is often very difficult, and engaging with them to bring the property back in to use.”
Ashfield District Council has brought 3,056 empty homes back into use in the past five years.
A spokeswoman said: “All of these properties had stood empty for over 10 years in most cases, which blighted the area and impacted on residents in the locality and the owners did not have any real expectations of improving them.”
The authority has also invested £435,000 to redevelop nine empty homes in Warwick Close, on the Coxmoor Estate in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. The homes should be ready to occupy by spring 2017.
Portfolio for housing, Councillor Keir Morrison, said: “Empty homes are a complete waste and they attract vandalism and anti-social behavior.
“By investing in these homes the council is demonstrating its commitment to providing high quality, modern council housing for tenants in the district.”
The number of registered empty homes, including derelict properties, in each Nottinghamshire borough
Ashfield District Council – 712
Bassetlaw District Council – 1,258
Broxtowe Borough Council – 986
Gedling Borough Council – 1,253
Mansfield District Council – 1,132
Newark and Sherwood District Council – 1,402
Nottingham City Council – 1,443
Rushcliffe Borough Council – 796