THERE has been a small rise in the number of long term empty properties in York.

In 2018, some 527 homes in the city had lain empty for more than six months. For 2019 that figure rose slightly to 653.

But City of York Council’s housing manager Ruth Abbott told a meeting that staff have been visiting some of the empty properties and found that many are occupied or about to be rented out.

She added that the council has compulsorily purchased one long term empty home and added: “It was up in the Acomb area, it’s an ex council house. We brought it back into use as a council property. But it’s not a quick fix. It’s a very long process and it involves a lot of people.”

The meeting of the health and adult social care committee heard that more properties will be visited in a bid to “fully understand whether the recent reported increase in numbers is real and significant”, according to a council report.

It adds that the number of empty homes in York is still low compared to national figures, and says: “Revenues staff decide whether a property should be classified as empty for council tax purposes based on whether or not a property is ‘substantially furnished’.”

Any home that is classified as empty for more than two years is charged a premium council tax rate - double the normal amount.