Landlords with empty properties are being urged to take advantage of council cash to help fight the housing shortage.
About 300 councils currently offer a scheme '� mainly loans to carry out repairs - although some provide grants, usually ranging from �5,000 to more than �25,000.
However, since 2015 when central government funding stopped, councils have had to find the cash from their own budgets.
Kent County Council's No Use Empty scheme, for example, offers short-term loans of between �25,000 and �175,000, while Preston Council will offer to buy an empty property and renovate it for its use.
Often councils will only offer grants on the condition that landlords then take tenants in council temporary accommodation.
Camden's Landlord Empty Property Grant scheme offers �15,000 for a bedsit up to �80,000 for a large building and has provided 56 grants '� mainly for flats - since 2013/14.
It believes that many empty homeowners might struggle to repay a loan and that loan schemes can be complex and a burden to administer, says councillor Meric Apak (pictured) cabinet member for better homes.
He says: 'One of the most successful approaches available to us is to use grants to support empty homeowners to undertake any works required, in return for which we ask them to house a homeless household we are working with.'�
Action on Empty Homes says take-up is better wherever the scheme is more generous, but believes that with housing waiting lists getting worse, it's a good way to help.
'It's worth finding out whether your council does it,'� campaigns manager Chris Bailey tells LandlordZONE.
'For those landlords looking to buy property at auction in up-and-coming areas, these are more likely to need some work, so it makes a lot of sense to look at a scheme that will help you.'�
It believes a new national empty homes strategy would create a national fund to support councils in bringing tens of thousands of long-term empty homes back into use and says council tax rises alone are unlikely to be effective. 'Carrots are needed as well as sticks,'� adds Bailey.