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Leeds Empties presentation at Empty Homes Network Conference 2014


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Leeds Empties provides an Empty Homes Doctor service to owners of empty properties in Leeds, with support from Leeds City Council. Rob Greenland and Gill Coupland spoke at the national Empty Homes Network conference in Birmingham on 20th May about the service.

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Leeds Empties presentation at Empty Homes Network Conference 2014

  1. 1. What we’ll talk about • A quick recap • An Empty Homes Doctor overview • Report back on our first year • Look forward to year 2
  2. 2. Call To Action – May 2012
  3. 3. Six month pilot • Leeds City Council offered £10k funding • Six months to try out a range of ideas that we developed following the Call To Action • Soon became clear that the Empty Homes Doctor was the one that was going to work
  4. 4. April 2013 – 12 month contract • £100,000: to work with 125 owners & to bring 25 homes back into use • Opportunity for us to work out how Leeds Empties could best sit alongside LCC approach
  5. 5. The idea behind the Doctor • 90% of 5000 empty homes privately owned • Council focus primarily on “priority” empties • Could we fill a gap by working differently with others? • And could we involve local businesses?
  6. 6. How the Empty Homes Doctor works 1. The Council writes to owners on our behalf 2. Owners get in touch with us 3. We meet them at their property – work out what they want to do, and what’s stopping them 4. We put together an Empty Homes Doctor report – outlining options 5. We offer to work with them to bring home back into use
  7. 7. Some statistics (first 10 months) • We worked with 137 owners • 26 homes back into use • 17 rented out • 4 sold (3 through agents, 1 at auction) • Current active caseload – around 50 • 40 well on their way to being brought back into use • 20 passed back to Leeds City Council
  8. 8. Some statistics (first 10 months) • Half of the homes worked on were in 4 inner-city wards • 56 people owned more than one property • 17 owners had inherited the home • 15 were first time buy-to-let investors • 23 people whose circumstances had changed eg moved away • 4 people had moved into long term care
  9. 9. Where we work best • The owner is motivated, but not sure what to do • Has money/borrowing power to do any necessary work • In particular: people who inherit a home, people who move from Leeds, people moving into care
  10. 10. Where we’ve struggled • The owner is in a difficult financial situation – no cash, no borrowing power, negative equity • The home is in a more challenging area for rental • In particular – small-scale landlords with 1 or 2 properties
  11. 11. What we offer that’s different • We work closely with local businesses • We can deal with “low priority” long-term empties • We can work intensively with people where necessary • We get actively involved in trying to solve problems • We get lots of publicity for work on empty homes • We’ve attracted other income & support • We are not the council!
  12. 12. April 2014 – new contract agreed
  13. 13. How things will change this year • Target – doubled to 50 homes back in use • LCC focuses on inner-city, higher priority empties – we focus on outer-area, lower priority homes • We develop specific services for particular groups of owners – eg owners of homes empty 5 years + • The council will share data with us, so we can write to owners ourselves. • We’ve negotiated referral fees with businesses
  14. 14. Much more to do – but we’re onto something
  15. 15. @leedsempties