A new scheme has been launched to help solve the country’s housing shortage by providing cheap loans to the owners of England’s 710,000 empty properties in order to bring them back into use.
The cash – up to £15,000 per property – will be offered through the government supported National Empty Homes Loan Fund.
Currently, owners of empty homes are often unable to access funds to bring the properties back into use, creating a vicious cycle of decline in areas with high numbers of empty properties.
The loan fund will enable access to secured, 5 year loans at a fixed 5% interest rate, so that owners can repair the property to the government’s ‘decent homes’ standard. It is expected that the loans will mostly be used for renovations such as the fitting of windows or doors or roofing, plumbing and insulation work.
Once the home has been refurbished, it must then be let at an affordable rent level.
David Ireland OBE, Chief Executive of the charity Empty Homes, said, “This scheme is a real first in England and is a great example of central government working together with the public and private sector to try and reduce the number of empty homes in the UK.
“We hope the fund will enable hundreds of empty homes to be brought back up to standard and back into the housing stock.”
39 local authorities are currently taking part in the scheme. The fund was one of the demands of last year’s Great British Property Scandal campaign led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke.
Clarke said, “I care passionately about getting England’s empty homes back into use for people who need them. This scheme provides real help to property owners to help achieve that.”