DOZENS of empty homes have been brought back into use across South Lakeland since 2015, according to new figures.

Statistics from South Lakeland District Council show that 267 empty homes are back in action following work by its housing department.

In 2011, there were 1,079 long term empty homes across the district which fell to 973 in 2017.

Since April last year, the council has brought 27 homes back into use and has a target of 70 a year.

Empty homes can lead to damp, pests, vandalism, arson and squatting which reduces the value of neighbouring properties.

The council said: “There are various reasons for leaving properties empty such as being up for sale, for rent or are being repaired.

“The previous owner may have died and the person who inherits it can take time to decide what to do with the property.”

Some houses become empty when the owner goes into care or when it becomes inhabitable following flooding, it added.

A report before the council’s cabinet said: “The total number of long term empty homes fluctuate as home are brought back into use and as properties become empty.”

The council’s figures show that since 2015 it has “enabled” the completion of 900 permanent homes.

It is part of its target to provide 1.000 affordable homes for rent by 2025.

Around 20 households were living in temporary accommodation every three months last year.

The report said: “The main reasons for homelessness are the reduced benefit for people aged under 35, high rents and the loss of a private sector tenancy and a lack of affordable housing.”

Family relationships could also breakdown leaving someone homeless, with young people sometimes leaving home because of abuse, the report added.