Life in the Lakes - April 2015
I was thinking about what I could write in this month’s blog, and then I remembered I’d had an unusual one recently which finally came to a successful conclusion, in a very round-a-bout way. Sort of ‘thinking outside the box’ solution…
It started off with an owner of two local empty homes, who was also the occupier of a third local house. When I wrote to him (quite a few times over the years) about his two empties, he always replied with a beautifully handwritten letter. He had been looking after his elderly mum in a different part of the country, and she eventually died. He also had regular periods of ill health himself. I always tried with my replies to him to be sympathetic, but to offer support and advice. I’m sure you’ve all had an experience along these lines … lots of patience needed!
Anyway, one day he wrote back saying did I know of anyone who would be interested in his own ‘occupied’ home. Cue another email around this time from a lady who wanted to buy this home (she had thought it looked empty). I wrote to the occupier again saying I had a buyer interested in his ‘occupied’ home. Cue (sadly) more illness and hospital treatment for the empty home owner.
But to cut a (very) long story short (4 years worth, which included complaints from neighbours), the owner finally moved from his occupied house, repaired his empty homes (now living in one and using the other for storage). This previously occupied home then became a ‘proper’ empty home, the potential buyer and empty home owner were ‘matched’ via myself, sales negotiations took place between both, and hey presto in March the sale finally went through. I went to have a look at the major renovations now taking place and everyone involved seems to be very happy with the outcome.
And the lessons I have learned from this one is a) always try to think ‘outside the box’ – not every solution is a tried and tested one, but it may be the right one for a particular owner and property, b) always try to keep in contact with these very long-term owners, offering to help them – they tend to remember your sympathetic approach as opposed to the ‘big stick’ c) persistence can really pay off!
Did you come up with a ‘creative’ solution to any of your long term empties?
Lynne Campbell, Empty Homes Officer, South Lakeland District Council