HOMES which have stood empty for more than 40 years are among dozens of vacant properties now giving families a roof over their head once more, thanks to a council campaign.
Some of the houses and flats brought back into use through Arun District Council's empty homes campaign had been unoccupied since the 1960s.
Over the past three years more than 60 privately owned homes, 17 of them in the Littlehampton area, have been renovated and sold on. More are expected to follow in the coming months.
In a few cases the council has, as a last resort, made compulsory purchase orders to secure a better future for a dilapidated property.
Councillor Robin Brown, Arun cabinet member for housing, said: "We know that properties may be empty for short periods for good reason. However, our major concern is with properties left empty for considerable lengths of time.
"They represent a waste of potentially useful accommodation in a time of housing shortage. They can also become run-down and attract crime and anti-social behaviour. In such cases we try hard to work with the owners to get the properties back into use."
There are an estimated 500 long-term empty residential properties across Arun district, not counting holiday and second homes.
Richard Cook, Arun's empty homes officer, said: "It can often take some real detective work to trace the owners of run-down properties.
"We then offer owners individual, specialist advice and guidance as to how to deal with their properties and in many cases can save the owners thousands of pounds on repairs and restoration works by certifying the property as eligible for concessionary rates of VAT on the labour and material costs."
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