Empty homes which are blighting neighbourhoods will be tackled after West Norfolk Council agreed to a new scheme.
Cabinet members have agreed an empty homes strategy which is aimed at bringing homes which have been empty for more than a year back into use.
West Norfolk has 1,049 long term empty properties, which is higher than any other district in the county. The highest number of properties are found in Lynn and Hunstanton.
Vacant properties can attract anti-social behaviour problems and environmental issues for the surrounding area.
Under the new scheme, the council is able to offer advice and compulsory purchase as a last resort. The council will also be working with Freebridge Community Housing Association on a private sector leasing scheme.
During the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, members were keen to strike a balance between owners’ rights and responsibilities.
Special projects portfolio holder Lord Howard expressed some reservations.
He said: “People’s lives should not be made a misery by others leaving their houses empty and causing a blight or disturbance to the neighbourhood that has to be dealt with.
“I believe there’s a right for people to have houses they don’t want to put people in.
“If someone wants to down-size and can’t sell their existing house, we should not be able as the state to compulsory take action they may not otherwise wish us to take.”
Deputy leader Brian Long said: “It is up to the owner if they want to keep their home empty and it is not affecting anyone else, why should it need the council to be pro-actively chasing the people up? It is up to them if they pay their council tax.”
Vivienne Spikings expressed concerns about plans for a council-run empty property matching service, which has been dropped.
She said: “If you have an empty property or want one you go to an estate agent.”