Leeds council targets empty houses

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.
Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

Thousands of previously empty properties are being filled as part of the ongoing work and investment by Leeds City Council (LCC).

As part of national empty homes week, LCC is raising awareness of the initiatives available to help bring empty properties back into use.

The council has introduced several schemes to help private owners use properties, as well as turning them into social housing. These have resulted in reducing the number of long term empty properties by nearly 2,000 to 4,747 since 2010. LCC has also reduced the total number of empty properties from 16,700 in 2010 to 13,573 as of March 2014.

Executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) 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 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.”

Last month LCC let a previously empty property to a social housing tenant as part of a ground-breaking scheme, funded by investment from the housing revenue account.

The project has seen the council buying 20 former council houses and letting them as council housing. The success of this scheme has prompted a further scheme to buy back 100 properties between April 2015 and March 2018, in a drive to provide more social housing in the city.