HUNDREDS of homes across Wrexham have been empty for at least six months, according to a report.

When Wrexham Council’s homes and environment scrutiny committee meet on Wednesday, its members will hear there are currently 457 properties across the county that have been empty for half a year or more.

A report to the committee clarifies that 419 of those are in the private sector and 38 in the council’s social housing stock.

The document states: “The council has adopted a number of initiatives to bring long-term empty properties back into use across the county borough, and this has positively affected 172 properties since 2012/13.

“As a social landlord, the council has an active role in ensuring that the number of long-term voids is kept to a minimum in order to respond to the demand for housing across the county borough.

“There are other properties that are not in use but do not meet the six-month criteria for being empty.

“These include voids in the council’s stock which are under repair following a change in tenancy or those properties that are ready to let.

“In order to bring privately owned empty properties back into use, both as affordable and open market housing, the main initiative takes the form of an interest-free loan scheme funded through the Welsh Government’s Houses into Homes and Vibrant and Viable Places programmes. Advice and assistance is also provided on a range of issues.

“In dealing with issues relating to the condition of empty properties, the council can take enforcement action.

“This action can include compulsory purchase orders and enforcement of right to buy conditions for ex-council properties.

“There are legal limitations to some of the actions the council may take and these can be lengthy and costly.”

The report also identifies potential risks associated with the empty homes, adding: “Failure to address long-term empty properties represents a missed opportunity to provide good quality accommodation across the county borough and may pose a barrier for further investment.

“Providing financial assistance in the form of loans to private owners represents a financial risk to the council due to the risk of default.

“This is mitigated by the council placing a legal charge on all properties that benefit from a loan in order to protect the council’s financial interest.”

The report recommends members note the work undertaken by the council in enabling long-term empty properties to be brought back into use.

It also states councillors should recommend the approach be included in the local housing strategy 2018-23 and support the continuation of the current arrangements.