A CALL has been made for action to reduce the number of empty private houses in Kirklees.
The Green Party says 4,500 private homes in the district have been empty for more than six months - and many for much longer.
Clr Andrew Cooper, who represents Newsome ward, said: "If we bring more properties back into use this will have a real effect on the housing market in the area."
He said reducing the shortage of rented and owner-occupied homes would have a positive impact.
More property on the market would give more choice to buyers and reduce the excessive cost of houses for first-time buyers and high rents in the private sector
Clr Cooper said council tax discount on empty and second homes had been reduced by Kirklees, bringing the costs in line with occupied houses.
Derek Hardcastle, Green Party candidate for Kirkburton, said: "This is a positive move, but what Kirklees needs is targets to reduce the overall level of empty homes.
"The more empty homes we bring back into occupation the fewer houses we will have to build to achieve Government targets, thereby protecting many sites from development," he added.
Mr Hardcastle said the Kirkburton area was under threat from new housing, with schools and roads under increasing strain.
The Greens say action to reduce the number of empty homes could include charging owners of empty properties for repairs, security and rubbish removal.
Advice on becoming a landlord and on any grants and loans available to improve properties could also be offered.
Advice could also be provided on how some properties might be sold to housing associations, creating rented property that was more affordable.