New neighbourhood approach to raise housing standards in the city
Leeds is introducing a new ‘neighbourhood approach’ to improving housing standards and bringing empty homes back into use across the city.
Leeds City Council will work with partners such as the police and fire service to go into areas across the city with high numbers of empty properties and private rented housing. Through engaging with landlords and owners in that area, the aim will be to build up safe and strong communities by bringing empty properties back into use and ensuring housing standards are to a good level and well managed.
The first area chosen for the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach project is the Nowells in east Leeds. The three roads Nowell Mount, Place and Terrace cover 150 properties, of which 43 are empty, 91 privately rented and 16 in owner occupation.
The council will also look to engage with other partners and third sector organisations such as the empty homes doctor, energy efficiency partners such as green deal, benefits and debt advice and jobs and skills providers.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said:
“We want to work with landlords and property owners in these areas to see how we can help them bring empty properties back into use or how to improve the standard of their housing.
“It is important that we work with our partners such as the police and fire service, so as to tackle all aspects of community life.
“Our approach to this is similar to that of the selective licence model, but gives us far more flexibility.
“If landlords and owners who we have been in contact with do not come forward after six weeks we will take whatever enforcement action is available to us to ensure housing standards are improved and properties brought back into use.”
Chief superintendent David Oldroyd of West Yorkshire Police, said:
We recognise the importance that our communities have a good quality environment to live and work in and how research has shown this can help to reduce crime and put offenders off. We will be working closely with our partners to support this scheme and ensure that our activities in the area are clearly visible and are tailored to compliment the actions being taken by the Local Authorities.
We believe this scheme will make a significant contribution to crime reduction in the areas it focuses on.
ACO Craig McIntosh, director of service delivery for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“A staggering 96 per cent of dwelling fire deaths in West Yorkshire occur in rented accommodation – 80 per cent of which do not have working smoke alarms”.
“West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention officers will work with the ‘Neighbourhood Team’ and private landlords to share knowledge and experience. They intend to visit residents, share safety advice and ensure private landlords are taking their responsibilities seriously”.
“Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and the cost is minimal to ensure smoke alarms are installed and simple measures are put in place to ensure their safety”.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450