THE COUNCIL is offering a hand to owners of disused properties with the launch of a new pilot scheme.

Empty Homes has been set up to help meet the growing demand for affordable and family-size homes in Oldham by working with owners whose properties have been empty for six months or more.

Oldham Council says there are around 1,100 long-term empty properties to be filled across the borough.

Over the next few months council officers will look to offer the owners a range of options including selling their property to the council at market value or entering a medium-term lease with them.

This would enable the council to fill the homes with families who need them and save owners thousands in council tax on a property nobody is Benefiting from.

Cllr Hannah Roberts, the council's cabinet member for housing, said: “Historically, the number of empty properties in our borough has been among the highest in Greater Manchester – this means families miss out on a much-needed home.”

"We’ve done a lot of work to reduce this figure because houses that are empty for a long time can blight the areas they are in, damage neighbouring properties and drive down property prices.

“Residents have told us they want to see action taken against empty properties in their neighbourhoods, which is why we’ve introduced this pilot."

Owners of a long-term empty properties in Oldham could be liable to pay the 150 percent Council Tax Empty Homes Premium introduced by the government, with Parliament permitting this to be increased to 200 per cent in April.

The council's housing department is attempting to contact owners of these properties and would like them to get in touch if they have npt already been called.

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