The Ministry of Defence has handed 19 empty RAF homes in Brampton back to a housing provider to make them available to the public.

The houses were handed back to Annington Homes on Tuesday, marking the start of the housing company assessing the properties to determine whether they will be made available to rent or to sell.

The company is aiming for a swift decision to be made on the future of the properties.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “We can confirm that 19 empty service family homes in RAF Brampton will be handed back to Annington Homes Limited as they are no longer required.”

Data from the MoD shows that 22 homes of the 36 it had rented from Annington have been empty for the last two years but, despite the number of homes being reduced to 17, some empty homes will be retained due to this high turnover rate of military personnel.

A similar situation has happened across the country, leaving some of the empty MoD houses in a poor state after being empty for such a long time – damp and mould have taken hold of the structures.

The MoD sold 55,000 properties to Annington Homes in 1996 for £1.6 billion – however figures suggest they lost out on more than £4 billion.

A spokesman for Annington said: “We can confirm that the MoD has given notice that it is returning 19 homes later this month.

“Once our contractors have accessed and assessed the properties we will make a decision about whether the properties will be offered for sale or rent.

“Our primary concern is to ensure that we bring about the return of these homes for families who need them as quickly as possible.”

The houses, which are privately let to the Ministry of Defence by Annington Homes, are primarily located around the Dacre Road estate and Millfield. Some have stood empty for between four months to six years.

The issue of the empty houses was raised by residents in a town survey and local leaders agreed they should be let to people from the Brampton area who need the housing.

David Moorat, chairman of Brampton Parish Council, said: “In our survey, which we did for the parish council in order to put forward a parish plan, housing was a particular issue that concerned quite a number of people, particularly for starter homes and low-cost housing rather than expensive four bedroomed houses.

“It would be useful if people from Brampton could be considered as a priority for occupying these houses when they come on the market.”

Iain Owens, chairman of Brampton & District Labour Party, said: “It is deeply regrettable that these homes have been lying empty for so long at a time when people in Brampton are in such need of affordable housing. New homes being built in the area are beyond the price range of many local and young people looking to stay in the area.”