Empty social housing nearly doubles in Leeds as demand soars

The number of empty social housing units has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic despite their extremely high demand.

According to Leeds City Council, around 1.3% of the 54,000 homes it has are empty, up from 0.7% before Covid-19. These houses are empty because they are considered uninhabitable and there have been delays in the repairs they need.

The council blamed the pandemic for the lack of repairs as well as shortages of materials and staff absences.

Read more: Naughty Yorkshire toddlers leave the kitchen in a ‘paint tsunami’ when mum goes to the toilet

This problem has only increased pressure on the social housing system in Leeds, as demand remains extremely high and the number of available homes has fallen thanks to the right to buy scheme. According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, last year 934 people bid for a detached house in the Halton Moor area.

Speaking at a meeting of senior advisers on Tuesday, Lib Dem group leader Stewart Golton said he was aware of some houses that had stood empty, or “empty”, for up to eight months. He said the issue had caused an “unintended effect in terms of being able to place people leaving care in sustainable accommodation.

He added: “There is also an impact in terms of revenue generation (from council), obviously, because we are not receiving rent from these properties which are empty.

“And there is frustration in the community.”

Labor responded to criticism by acknowledging the problem and pointing to its historically “excellent” record on empty properties. Officers said additional contractors had been brought in to help speed up repairs and they were confident numbers would start to drop within ‘four to six months’.

Housing council executive member Councilor Mohammed Rafique said: “We are behind with empty numbers, you are absolutely right.

“But I think nationally there are labor shortage issues. There are also problems with the supply of building materials, although things could improve.

“We haven’t come out of Covid either. We still have staff calling in sick with the virus. »

Councilor Rafique added: “I am convinced that in the coming months we will reduce the number of voids in the city.

“But it’s not just a Leeds problem. Elsewhere, other places are in trouble, if not worse than us.