LEEDS City Council has launched an interest-free loan scheme aimed at the owners of private empty homes to encourage these properties back into use.
Loans of up to £5,000 are being offered for properties that have been empty for over a year and are in a state of disrepair. The council said that larger loans of up to £30,000 are available, but these will be made at a low interest rate.
This support is being provided through the free Empty Homes Doctor service, which is funded by the council, and helps owners sell, refurbish, let or move into empty homes.
“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,” said Councillor Debra Coupar, the city council’s executive member for communities. “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.”
The council said it is continuing 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 right to buy funding to purchase empty properties and renovate through community volunteering programmes.
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 latest figures from the council show that as of June 2018, there were 3,182 empty homes.