YEP Says: Leeds must build, build, build - and boot out the rogue landlords

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LEEDS needs more houses. That’s well documented. It needs more houses so that people born and raised here who want to spread their wings and settle here, have somewhere to do so.

It needs more houses so that people who have moved to the city for work reasons who want to settle here and raise a family here, have the opportunity to do so.

And it needs those houses to be affordable, and it needs them to be serviced by all those things that we should be able to take for granted: local shops, health services, schools and so on and so forth.

Last year, as part of a series of Yorkshire Evening Post Voice of Leeds summits on issues of critical importance to the city, we hosted a meeting of representatives from the public, private and third sectors to try and tackle how we can build a city which meets housing needs now and in the future.

At that point we revealed that more than 5,500 properties had been lying empty for over six months.

There were around 25,000 people waiting for a council property - yet only 4,500 homes, on average, were let each year, with another 1,000 nominated to housing associations.

Between January and September last year, council bosses admitted, they had had over 70,000 expressions of interest in the 1,113 properties that became available.

And some of those bidding had been waiting years for a home.

Whether these facts and figures are better or worse, whether ‘slowly improving’ compared to previous years, is immaterial in our view.

Quite simply, there are two ways out of this problem: building homes and tackling head on the rogue and absentee landlords who are leaving houses empty and falling into states of disrepair.

We are pleased to see Leeds City Council addressing both these matters and we welcome the pledge to lobby for full powers to compulsorily purchase homes being left to rot, by their absentee owners, blighting the houses and communities around them, .

Creating safe, sustainable and affordable homes is a crucial factor in building strong and healthy communities. And it is those strong and healthy communities that, in turn, will ensure Leeds continues to develop, grow and prosper.