Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Grants offered for empty property

A Leicestershire council is offering grants in an attempt to deal with the growing problem of empty homes.

North West Leicestershire District Council said 1,300 homes in its area had stood unoccupied for more then six months - up 300 on 2006.

Now it is offering grants of up to 50% of the costs of bringing them up to modern standards.

Officials said there was enough empty property in the district to accommodate everyone on its housing waiting list.

Vandalism problems

The council said the recession not only meant many property developers were reluctant to take on refurbishment projects but also that some first time buyers could no longer afford extensive repairs.

Councillor John Bridges, Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: "As the recession takes hold and banks and building societies demand larger deposits, first-time buyers who can save the deposit are then unable to afford to renovate the properties.

"This has contributed towards the high number of homes abandoned."

While some empty homes were well maintained, officials added, others attracted vandalism, littering, fly-tipping, vermin and anti-social behaviour.

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