Leeds property news: Empty homes service wins top innovation award

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The Leeds-based Empty Homes Doctor service has scooped the top prize for innovation at the national Empty Homes Network (EHN) annual awards.

Backed by Leeds City Council, the Empty Homes Doctor service is a free city-wide scheme which provides tailored advice and expertise to empty home owners who want to sell or let their empty home.

Working alongside Leeds City Council’s empty homes team, the Empty Homes Doctor service has brought over 100 properties back into use since 2013. The service is run by Social Business Brokers, a Leeds-based social enterprise.

Nick Pritchard-Gordon, chair of the EHN judging panel said: “The Empty Homes Doctor service is all-about person-centred creativity – with a quick response. It illustrates that so much of our success depends on understanding people. It also demonstrates that we can’t just pick and choose which parts of the problem we should help an owner with. The PR aspect and branding are really important too as is the partnership working with the Council.”

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council executive member for communities, said: “The Empty Homes Doctor really epitomises all that we are trying to achieve as a council while breathing new life into empty homes; we’re being a more enterprising council, working with civic businesses around a clear mandate of turning empty properties back into much loved homes.

“By coming together to achieve this common goal we can make real difference to properties, and ultimately, people’s lives. The service is a brilliant example of galvanising action that we hope to see more of across the city.”

Award sponsor, Carson Millican of Empty Property Solutions noted: “I’d like to see more local authorities teaming with social enterprises that can provide a specialist service for empty property work. The free Empty Homes Doctor service is a nice touch as the starting point and it seems that social enterprises are best at bringing a voluntary input to schemes.”

The purpose of the EHN innovation award is to recognise creative and original interventions that result in problem long-term empty properties being returned to use.

Social Business Brokers’ Rob Greenland, co-founder of the Empty Homes Doctor service said: “We’re pleased to be recognised by empty homes professionals. We’ve worked hard to understand what empty home owners need - to help them to bring their homes back into use. That’s involved us having to think of new ways to work with people – and we’re delighted this has been recognised.”

The Empty Homes Doctor is a not for profit business that is funded by and works with Leeds City Council to help people to bring empty homes back into use. The Empty Homes Doctor service is free and bespoke to each individual empty property owner. Owners of empty homes can access free support by ringing 0113 200 9383 or via www.emptyhomesdoctor.org.uk

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