Council agrees six figure boost to bring empty properties back to use

Leeds City Council has agreed to invest £100,000 in a social enterprise to support the council’s aim to bring empty properties in the city back in to use.

Bringing empty homes back into use is a top 10 priority for the council and earlier this year the executive board agreed additional funds to support work achieve this. The council has been working in partnership with a Leeds based social enterprise; Leeds Empties on new innovative ways of bringing empty homes back into occupation. To help support this on-going work the council has agreed to support Leeds Empties with funding of £100k.

It is planned that the investment will be used to expand the ‘Empty Home Doctor Service’, develop a one-stop website for owners of empty properties, and look at new funding options to help address empty homes.

The Empty Homes Doctor concept allows an independent person to work with an owner of an empty property to explore all available options to bring their home back into use. They can also let them know about contractors, solicitors and other organisations who they could contact to help them to bring their property back into use - a role which the council is unable to play.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member responsible for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:

“Bringing empty homes back into use is a top priority for the council and something that we are making good progress in. This funding will allow Leeds Empties to accelerate the great work they have already started.

“Their Empty Homes Doctor service has already proven that it can provide quick-wins for property owners and help them resolve issues to bring their empty homes back into use, without the need for council intervention.”

Rob Greenland from Leeds Empties said:

“We’re looking forward to working more with the council’s empty homes team to bring more long-term empty homes back into use. Our Empty Homes Doctor will be offering one-to-one support to owners of empty homes who aren’t sure what to do next. We’ll also be working out how to get more investment into green refurbishment of empty properties, which will help lift more people in Leeds out of fuel poverty.

“Our work so far has made it clear to us that there are lots of people and organisations in Leeds who want to help to turn empty properties into homes. So we’ll be working hard over the next 12 months to continue to engage a wide range of people in bringing empty homes back into use.”

Leeds Empties will also use some of the investment to further develop their website which provides home owners with help, advice and offers from organisations to encourage the owners to address issues which are preventing them from bringing their properties back into use.

The investment will mean home owners will be able to access support and advice to get their homes back into use – an alternative to the council’s more enforcement orientated approach. It will also allow the council’s empty homes team to focus their efforts engaging with properties owners who require a more formal approach.

Notes to editors:

Leeds Empties is delivered by Leeds-based social enterprise Social Business Brokers CIC. Social Business Brokers work with people to develop enterprising ways to tackle complex social problems.

Leeds Empties was developed to identify ways to bring more empty homes back into use. The main areas of work include:

• An Empty Homes Doctor service – offering one-to-one support to bring more empty homes back into use.

• Work to attract investment into green refurbishment of empty properties – to help take more people out of fuel poverty.

• Engaging local people and organisations – in particular local businesses – in bringing more empty homes back into use.

Anyone who owns an empty home in Leeds can contact the Empty Homes Doctor via the Leeds Empties website www.leedsempties.org.uk or by ringing 0113 815 2024


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk