The district council is renewing efforts to bring empty homes back into use by giving landlords and owners an incentive grant of up to £5,000 to help them re-let their properties.
Hundreds of addresses in the district have been identified as long-term unoccupied at a time when there is increasing housing demand nationally and locally, said South Kesteven District Council.
In support of the government’s initiative to tackle the shortfall, SKDC is encouraging those who own properties registered as empty to assist in returning them to use.
The authority is aware that some properties will require a considerable amount of work in order to develop them into a habitable condition. However, the cost of undertaking this work can either place a heavy strain on finances or prove unaffordable to undertake.
Currently, landlords and owners pay nothing towards council tax for the first month that the property is empty.
For the next five months they pay 75 per cent of the charge and for the following 18 months 100 per cent. After two years the amount goes up to 150 per cent.
If the property is undergoing major structural repair the charge is 75 per cent for the first 12 months followed by 100% over the next year. After two years it rises to 150 per cent.
SKDC’s portfolio holder for good housing Councillor Frances Cartwright said: “We know bringing homes back into use can be a challenge particularly for owners who own homes that have not been maintained over a number of years.
“However the work can bring a number of benefits, not least improving the condition and value of the property and, if the property is then let, generating income for the owner.
“For the local community, an occupied property is generally preferable to having a neighbouring property empty. It decreases the likelihood of squatting, fly-tipping, vandalism or anti-social behaviour being centred on the property.
“We appreciate there are valid reasons why a home might be empty in the short term but our research confirms that many long term empty properties need not be empty and could be brought back into use, helping to meet housing need and playing a useful role in the community.
“It also helps meet housing needs and improve the district’s neighbourhoods.”
In order to qualify for the scheme, the property must have been empty for a minimum period of six months and owners must agree to charge rent that does not exceed Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for a minimum period of three years.
The property must be brought back in to use within 12 months of work commencing and the grant does not cover fees, drainage, works already completed or repairs to outbuildings.
The council will now be writing to owners with details of the grant and directing them to update details on an empty property.
Owners need to enter the passcode and property reference number contained in the correspondence they receive on the web form.
For further information about the grant contact SKDC’s environmental health team on 01476 406080 or visit the website.