The Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black has welcomed progress in bringing just over 2,000 empty homes back into use since May 2011 but has said local councils need more tools if they are to continue to make progress in this area.
The Minister classed many of the properties brought back into use as 'low-hanging fruit' and indicated that the next 2,000 would be more difficult. There are 23,000 private sector homes standing empty around Wales. Mr. Black argued that Councils needed more effective tools as well as some sticks to force owners to act.
"In my own survey of local councils around Wales ten of them responded that they do not have an empty property officer to drive forward this initiative, whilst four of them do not have an action plan," said Mr. Black.
"Councils have some tools such empty dwelling management orders and compulsory purchase but these are expensive and often the condition of the property is such that the local authority cannot recover the cost of the order and subsequent works.
"In many cases owners are reluctant to cooperate and in these circumstances Councils should be able to charge them additional council tax so as compensate the community for the blight they have visited on it.
"The Minister needs to legislate to give ensure that Councils are more focused on dealing with this problem and ensure that they have the tools to do the job properly."