Owners of private empty properties can apply for interest-free loans of up to £5,000 from Leeds City Council to help their buildings come back into use.
To qualify for the loan, a property must have been empty for over a year and in a state of disrepair. Owners can also apply for a larger low-interest loan of up to £30,000. This support is available through the free Empty Homes Doctor service, which funded by the council, helps owners sell, refurbish, let or move into empty homes.
Support ranges from helping with probate, mediation, financial support and access to contractors. Relationships can also be established with third sector organisations, who work with young people at risk of becoming homeless, to get homes to let quickly and to those in the most need. Since 2013 the Empty Homes Doctor have helped over 500 people bring their home back into use.
The council continues to work collaboratively with third sector partners who play an important role in helping to reduce the number of empty homes in the city. This includes supporting organisations such as Canopy, LATCH and Gipsil through financial support via loans, leases and the right to buy funding to purchase empty properties and renovate through community volunteering programmes. This sits aside the council’s executive board also recently approving a £927k phase two programme of work which will bring a further 31 empty homes back into use.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:
“While we have made enormous progress in bringing empty homes both in our own council stock and in the private sector back into use in Leeds, there is still a lot of hard work to do. We have encouraged over 3,500 private empty homes back into use over the past few years, and are continuing to work very closely and explore all options with partners to ensure this number increases.
“An example of this is through our free Empty Homes Doctor service, which offers owners of an empty property or properties the chance to access a variety of support to help bring them back into use. This is not only good news for the owner of such a property but also for us as a city in our aim to ensure more properties are not left idle for a significant amount on time.”
In March 2010, there were 6,721 long-term empty homes based on Government CPA (Comprehensive Performance Assessment) criteria in Leeds. That figure has dropped over the last eight years, and the latest figures from the council show that as of June 2018, there were 3,182 empty homes. That is an overall net reduction of 3,539 – or more than 50 per cent.
The Empty Homes Doctor service:
The Empty Homes Doctor service is free and have many success stories of helping owners bringing homes back to use. They can help with a wide range of sticking points with empty homes including:
- Handling legal issues including probate.
- How to become a successful landlord.
- Renovations, House Clearances, Gardeners
Do you know an empty home owner?
Sometimes we are unable to trace empty home owners. If you know an empty home owner, encourage them to make contact with us. We are here to help and have many success stories of working with empty home owners.
For more information, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk