Landlords in Portsmouth could be forced to sell their homes if they are left empty for more than six months

Portsmouth City Council housing cabinet member Councillor Darren Sanders outside Horatia House in Portsmouth. Picture: Malcolm Wells
Portsmouth City Council housing cabinet member Councillor Darren Sanders outside Horatia House in Portsmouth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

LANDLORDS who leave homes empty for more than six months could be forced to sell up.

The clampdown was threatened after figures showed Portsmouth topped a national list for the biggest increase in property vacancies within a year.

Government data released this week showed the number of long-term empty homes in Portsmouth rose by 101.5 per cent in the 12 months up to October 2018, totalling 939 - a larger increase than any other area in the country.

And a total of 3,153 private homes in the city were known to be empty for six months or more in 2018.

Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for housing Councillor Darren Sanders this week approved the Empty Private Property Strategy, which allows for enforcement measures if landlords fail to bring homes back into use.

This means the council would be able to either take on management of properties or buy them via Empty Dwelling Management Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders.

At a housing meeting on Tuesday councillors raised their concerns about the amount of empty homes in the city.

Speaking about the government figures Tory councillor Luke Stubbs said: 'I must say I did find the jump in numbers for properties left empty disturbing.'

Cllr Sanders added: ‘It is important that we make sure any private properties brought back into use.

‘We know that we need more homes in the city and that we can't simply build our way out of that situation. A solution is needed right now.’

The council will attempt to speak with landlords and encourage them to make their properties available before taking enforcement action.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that there were 2,211 people on the council's housing waiting list and 67 known rough sleepers in January this year.

At the same time 34 council properties were empty excluding properties requiring large-scale works, such as Leamington House and Horatia House, and those out on offer to residents.

It comes after the council approved higher council tax rates for empty properties.