JUST 13 homes in Bradford classed as long-term empty were brought back into use last year.

In stark contrast, 3,913 homes are still empty despite long waiting lists of families desperate for somewhere to live.

Bradford Council lays some of the blame on a phenomenon known as ‘buy-to-leave’ where wealthy property speculators snap up homes but then leave them empty because collecting rent would be too much bother.

While these speculators sit on a pile of empty properties the city’s housing crisis grows steadily worse.

To most of us leaving a property empty when it could be earning rent sounds ridiculous.

But the cost of maintenance and administration can sometimes outweigh the benefits of a monthly rent so speculators prefer to leave their investments empty.

Of course there are other reasons for homes standing empty. An owner may not have the money to make it habitable or it may have been handed down as part of an inheritance.

But in some towns and cities entire streets have been left to rot.

Bradford Council has the power to charge owners an extra 50 per cent council tax if a property has been empty for more than a year - but that punishes people who can’t afford to renovate and is no deterrent to the rich.

We have sympathy with anyone who cannot afford to improve their home, but speculators are a different matter.

Bradford Council should use its compulsory purchase powers to put these homes back on the market.