Councils will now have to wait two years before seizing back empty homes – but at the same time are being urged by Government to do more to solve the problem blighting communities.

Latest figures show there are 13,720 empty properties in Bradford among a total of 47,477 across West Yorkshire.

Rows of boarded-up homes stand across the district, including in Oak Lane, Manningham, Morley Street, Bradford, as well as off Westgate, near the city centre.

In May last year the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed how residents and business bosses were calling for action over the rows and rows of flats that were empty at the back of Westgate, which was known locally as “death row”.

Social landlord Incommunities has said it is working with Bradford Council on design proposals for the site, which they hope will compliment the wider regeneration of the city centre.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, the former leader of Bradford Council, has now said he was ending the “heavy handed rules” which meant people who leave their property vacant for more than six months could have it taken by the local authority.

But, at the same time, his department wants councils to do more to tackle the problem.

Present Council leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said: “The last Government brought in, in my view, long-overdue legislation which allowed councils to purchase such homes and this Government has made it more difficult to do it quickly.

“That has got to be unacceptable.”

The Government now wants residents to inform councils where empty homes are in a bid to stop the problem escalating further. It also says it will match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use – which councils can spend as they wish.