Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

Council action over empty homes

Boarded-up house
The council estimates that more than 1,000 properties are unoccupied

The appointment of an "empty homes officer" for South Lakeland District Council has led to action taken on 70 unoccupied properties.

Thirteen have been re-occupied, and 57 identified as second homes.

These have now been assessed as eligible for a 10% council tax discount, rather than one of 50%, giving the council extra revenue.

Letters are now being sent out to other owners asking if their homes could be rented out to local people.

It is estimated that more than 1,000 properties, which could be made into habitable dwellings, have stood empty for more than six months or longer.

The council has more than 5,000 people on the waiting list.

Councillor Brenda Gray, portfolio holder for housing, said: "The council recognises that there are often good reasons why a house is empty, but there are a lot of people looking for rented accommodation.

"Empty home owners can benefit from tenants who will look after the house and they will obviously gain additional income which will help to maintain the property in good condition."

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