HOMES standing empty in Oxford have an estimated value of more than £100m, according to property investment experts.

Property Partner analysed data from the Department of Communities and Local Government to look at the number of homes standing empty for longer than six months in cities across the UK.

Using Land Registry figures for the average house price in Oxford in February - £408,448 - the property investment firm said the estimated value of 263 empty homes in the city last year was £107.4m.

It added that 91 out of 263 homes were owned by the local authority, with an estimated value of £37.2m.

Property Partner's Dan Gandesha said: "Oxford has a relatively small number of empty homes compared with some areas but, with its proximity to London and importance in the world of academia and research, its average property value is much higher than the rest of the UK.

"There is an awful lot of money tied up in these dormant homes."

City council leader Bob Price said he was 'not surprised' by the estimated value of empty homes in the city because of high property prices.

He added that the council was doing everything it could to tackle the problem.

Mr Price said: "Where the homes are owned by the local authority and they are capable of being brought back into use then we will do that as quickly as possible.

"But the council can try to intervene in the private sector as well.

"Sometimes overseas investors buy up homes and leave them empty, or there are family disputes, issues over ownership, or aspirations to renovate a property which people don't get round to.

"We have used legal intervention including compulsory purchase orders in a number of cases but it can be complicated to bring a property back into use."

Property Partner conducted a survey of local authorities and found Oxford came 281st out of 352 for having the most empty homes.

Birmingham was the worst affected city outside London, with 4,397 empty homes, according to the company.

The city council has said its current plan to bring empty homes back into use needed refreshing.

It has reduced the number of empty homes from 717 in April 2009 to 303 as of the end of the financial year, but said there remained a 'hard-core' of properties that would remain unoccupied without action.

The new strategy, for 2018 to 2021, would focus on how to 'target and enforce' against homes empty for two years or more, a report to the housing scrutiny panel said.

Empty property officer Melanie Mutch said greater emphasis will also be placed on identifying empty dwellings and commercial sites suitable for development or change of use.

A recent application for a compulsory purchase order to acquire a vacant home in Rose Hill demonstrated the council's resolve, she said.

The council can detect empty homes through various methods, including council tax records.

When a homeowner does not want to bring it back into use, the council can serve notices to force them to make improvements, apply for an empty dwelling management order, or apply for a compulsory purchase order.

There is also a cash incentive to bring more homes back into use, as this is included as criteria for the 'new homes bonus' paid by the Government to councils.