GRANTS of up to £10,000 are being offered by West Somerset Council so empty homes in the district can be restored to use.
The council may also be able to help owners of idle commercial buildings, flats, or empty storage areas above shops where there is potential for conversion to a dwelling.
Residents are being encouraged to report homes which have been empty for six months or more to allow the council to contact owners and look at putting the properties to good use.
The council’s housing portfolio holder, Councillor Kate Kravis, said: “Despite the effect of the current economic climate on the housing market, there is still a chronic shortage of affordable homes to rent and buy in West Somerset.
“We can help owners of properties who are struggling to bring homes up to the decent homes standard, or who have inherited the property but do not live in the area and are worried about managing the property.”
As well as funding grants of up to £10,000 for empty homes to be restored to use, the council can also help owners lease their homes to people looking for affordable housing to rent.
Advice and support is available on selling properties to local housing associations so that they can be let to local people.
Grants worth up to £5,000 may also be available to owner-occupiers who cannot currently live in homes because they do not meet the decent homes standards.
Councillor Kravis said: “Members of the public can play their part by advising us of properties that are vacant.
“We can then contact the owners and try to bring the homes back into use for local people.”
Grants are not available for second homes which are vacant for long periods during the year.
Anybody wishing to report empty homes in West Somerset should call 01643 703704, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.