FLINTSHIRE Council could soon be able to force the sale of empty private properties to deal with rundown or derelict buildings.
An enforced sales policy passed by the cabinet will give the authority powers to help solve the problem of dilapidated properties, as well as recover substantial outstanding debts.
There are 469 long-term vacant properties across the county.
Council leader Aaron Shotton said: “Flintshire has long been at the forefront of initiatives that tackle the scourge of long-term empty properties.”
The enforced sales policy will be an additional tool to compel owners to improve properties.
In some cases, financial support will be made available to owners to bring their properties up to a proper standard for letting.
Through the new policy, the council can put a long-term vacant property up for auction to pay off relevant debts, working with the new owner to ensure its reoccupation.
Debts could include council tax arrears, social care charges and any other debt for work carried out and funded by the council as a result of exercising powers to repair or improve the property.
There would be no enforced sale if the debts are paid off and officers said enforced sale is therefore a last resort.
One property highlighted as an example, has social care charges in excess of £40,000, where the previous owner and recipient of care is now deceased.
The family are unwilling to sell the property, as they wish to live in it, but are unable to fund the cost to make it habitable.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Helen Brown, said: “It is no longer acceptable for properties to remain empty when the need for housing is increasing.
“With this policy the council can begin moving forward to address the issue of vacant homes whilst also recovering monies it is owed.”