'Make more use of empty homes'
Councillors want more money to be put into efforts to bring hundreds of empty homes in Leicester back into use.
According to latest figures, there are about 1,400 properties across the city that have been uninhabited for more than 18 months but could be suitable for people to live in.
Members of Leicester City Council's housing scrutiny commission said those privately-owned homes could play an important part in reducing the authority's waiting list for accommodation.
The council already has a single member of staff who has the job of contacting the owners of disused homes to try to get the home back into use, but the commission wants more resources put in.
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It has recommended a further £60,000 be spent recruiting more staff. They would encourage house owners to apply for grants to do up homes so they can be used.
They will also urge people to sign up to a scheme called HomeCome where the council becomes an agent for their home, putting tenants in and giving them a rent.
In more extreme cases, they will work on compulsory purchase orders.
Scrutiny commission chairman Councillor Lynn Moore said: "There are thousands of people in the city who have not got a house of their own to live in and may be staying with their parents or friends.
"It is an affront that a house can be standing empty when a family needs it and a scandal that somebody could have a perfectly good property but be making no effort to do anything with it. The council has a very good track record of bringing homes empty back into use – about 89 per cent those identified every year.
"That's with one person working half a week.
"With more staff we could do even more."
Since 2004, nearly 1,500 empty homes have been bought back into use by the council.
Coun Moore said homes sometimes fell into disuse because their owners had died and they were inherited by people who did not do anything with them, perhaps for financial reasons, or because they live abroad.
The council's executive has agreed to increase the budget for empty homes staff.
Assistant city mayor for housing Councillor Andy Connelly said: "I am pleased the executive recognises the value of our empty homes team and the work it does."