Huge drop in number of empty properties in Leeds

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The number of long-term empty homes in Leeds has been slashed by more than 40 per cent after a major drive by council housing bosses.

Leeds City Council has introduced a number of schemes over the last five years to help private owners bring their empty properties back in to use, as well as turning previously empty properties into social housing.

And now it is claiming major success for its crackdown.

The authority has revealed the number of long term empty properties in Leeds has fallen by nearly 2,000 to 4,747 since 2010.

The total number of unoccupied homes - both long and short term - has also dropped from 16,700 in 2010 to 13,573 in March this year.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods and housing matters, said: “Bringing empty homes back into use is a top 10 priority for the council and over the past two years, the council has invested significant funding to support work to achieve this.

“We know these properties can cause a blight to local communities and with so many people needing affordable housing, it is a great way to make sure more families can get a home which is a decent standard. It is a ‘win win’ for all concerned.

“By looking at innovative ways to invest, working with social enterprise organisations and forging close links with the private rented sector, we can work together to bring these much needed houses back into use.”

One successful project has been a partnership with social enterprise Leeds Empties to develop new ways of bringing empty homes back into occupation. The council has pumped £100,000 into the project.

The cash was used to expand the ‘Empty Home Doctor Service’, to develop a one-stop website for property owners, and to look at new funding options to help address the issue. Following the success of the pilot, the council has now agreed a formal grant of £100,000 a year for the next three years, with an aim to bring 50 long term empty homes back into use each year.

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