Leeds-based fellow Rob Greenland updates us on the progress of Leeds Empties, which the RSA recently supported with a £5,000 Catalyst grant.
You probably have an idea as to what an empty home looks like. Boarded-up, semi-derelict, with an overgrown front garden. And it’ll probably not be the only empty home on the street.
The reality, at least in Leeds, is very different. Perhaps 10% of our 5000 long-term empty homes look like this. The rest are empty – but in appearance are no different to any other house on the street.
That’s not to say they’re not a problem. They’ll be costing the owners money – and, whilst there’s a chronic housing shortage, it’s a wasted resource.
More often than not the owner would like to bring their home back into use, but they don’t know where to start. That’s where our Empty Homes Doctor service comes in.
We talk with the owner to find out why their home is empty and then produce a detailed report outlining their options. Then, once they’ve decided which way forward suits them best, we work with them intensively to bring the home back into use.
With funding from Leeds City Council, we’ve helped to bring more than 75 homes back into use over the last couple of years. The support we offer differs each time – but can involve:
• Help to identify problems with the probate process
• Support to find estate agents, letting agents or auctioneers
• Help finding contractors to carry out work
• Support to find finance to renovate the home
Support from the RSA is helping us to expand our work. A new website – which will be ready early in 2015 – will help us to reach more owners, whilst our impact report, due in April, will demonstrate the value of our work to the council and to the local economy. For example, our interim impact report suggests that the renovation of an empty home typically generates around £6,000 of trade for local businesses.
We also plan to tap into RSA networks as we look to expand into other cities in 2015. If you could help us to explore offering our Empty Homes Doctor service in your area please get in touch.
0113 200 9383