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Swansea success in bringing empty properties back into use

More empty properties in Swansea were brought back into use last year than in any other part of South Wales.

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Figures for the 2016/2017 financial year show 358 empty properties being brought back into use across the city - the most of any local authority area in South Wales and the third most in Wales as a whole.

Close to 1,400 empty properties in Swansea have been brought back into use over the last five years.

Swansea Council says this can be attributed to a pro-active approach where officers take whatever action is necessary to encourage the re-use of empty properties.

Cllr Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Energy and Building Services, said: "Empty properties aren't just a wasted resource at a time when there's a need for housing in Swansea - they can blight the appearance of communities where they're located as well, while also sometimes attracting anti-social behaviour.

"That's why we have taken a pro-active approach in Swansea in recent years, with the impact showing our work is having a positive effect. Tactics we use include informal discussions with the owners of empty properties, often providing advice and assistance to enable the reoccupation of properties. This includes mailshots to empty property owners, advising them of loans and grants available, as well as guidance on letting, renovating and selling at auction.

"But while we try to work closely with as many private owners of empty properties as possible, we have shown that we will take action when our requests fall on deaf ears. This can range from action to deal with issues like pest control and fly-tipping to enforcing the sale of empty, private properties when owners fail to pay back money to the council for works we've had to carry out to make these properties safe."

Since 2008, the council has enforced the sale of 17 properties across the city to recover debts.

Under Swansea Council's Grants for Nominations scheme, grants of up to £5,000 are available to private owners of properties that have been empty for six months or more to help bring them back into use. Also, since the Welsh Government's Houses into Homes scheme was launched in 2012, loans under this programme have been used to bring 46 privately-owned, empty properties in Swansea back into occupation.

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