YORK council has helped bring 23 empty homes back into use in the last year, and has now joined forces with a property firm to help neighbouring Selby tackle its problem.

Council tax records show that in October/November this year, there were 122 long-term empty properties in York - 0.5 per cent of the city’s total housing stock of 86,000 homes. In Selby district around one per cent of the total housing stock lies empty - 387 homes.

During Empty Homes Week this week, a new partnership of City of York Council, Selby District Council and Hunters Property Group, is offering owners free advice on how they can sell empty homes, or bring them back into use.

York’s council leader Cllr David Carr said: “We understand that the circumstances surrounding empty homes can be complex and may involve legal, family or financial matters, and we can help resolve these.

“We live in a fast-growing city where demand for housing is high. By helping people bring empty homes into use, they can realise new income streams from rent or capital from sales, while people in need of a home can find one.”

York council has given advice and information, and in some cases turned to enforcement action, to bring its empty homes back into use. Since the launch of the city’s empty property strategy and action plan staff say there has been a 67 per cent reduction in the number of long-term empty homes in the city.

Hunters are now offering free advice to owners of empty property in both York and Selby. The company’s John Waterhouse said: “The demand for homes in York is currently high, the market for properties which are ready to modernise is buoyant, so rather than feeling burdened by the task of renovating or refurbishing an empty property, now could be a good time to put it up for auction.

“We will visit and assess empty homes in York or Selby, advise the owner for free and discuss whether it could be, and how it should be auctioned or sold on the open market.”

Selby council’s housing lead Cllr Richard Musgrave said the partnership was about a positive approach to bringing empty homes back into use, and stopping a problem that harms neighbourhoods.