Council gives empty homes new lease of life

The number of available homes in North Kesteven has increased by almost 100, without a single new brick needed.

With over 1,000 people currently on the council’s housing waiting list, the effort to take advantage of vacant builds aims to tackle the problem.

The growth has been achieved through various initiatives by bringing 98 vacant homes back into use.

Of these, 23 were brought back into use directly by North Kesteven District Council’s Empty Homes Working Group.

The council say they were among the more difficult cases to deal with, having been vacant for a total of 216 years between them.

The council said these 98 properties bring additional income of £726,660 to local services through payment of the government’s New Homes Bonus – each one being worth £8,736 over the six-year payment period.

Councillor Stewart Ogden, who has Executive Board oversight for housing in North Kesteven, said: “The work we put in through support, coercion, and just opening owners’ eyes to the potential income they’re missing out on by leaving properties empty, is making a significant difference to communities across the district and making almost 100 more houses available for families in need. It’s a win, win for all concerned.”

It’s estimated that by leaving a house vacant, owners are missing out on around £6,000 a year in lost rent, rising council tax costs, increased insurance, loss of value and general depreciation.

With the National Empty Homes Week, which runs from November 24 to 30, the district council is encouraging owners of vacant properties to realise the full potential of bringing them back into use.

Using a range of legal measures such as opening up funding options for owners, advising on ways to repair or renovate, renting and selling advice, and changes to tariffs and council tax, the number of empty houses in the district has been brought down from 519 in October 2012 to 421 in October 2013.

Residents who own an empty home in the area wanting to discuss options, or report any concerns about a vacant house, call Luke Taylor on 01529 308297 or email