Date Published 03 September 2013
A new scheme aimed at bringing some of England’s 710,000 empty homes back into use as rental properties has been launched.
In a joint initiative between the charity Empty Homes, the Ecology Building Society, central government and 39 participating local authorities, the scheme will provide loans of up to £15,000 to owners of empty properties.
The intention is that the property must be let once it has been refurbished to Decent Homes standard. It must be let at an affordable rent level that will have been agreed at the time of the application. If the property is sold within the agreed five-year loan period, then the loan must be repaid and there will be an early redemption penalty.
The fund was one of the demands of last year’s Great British Property Scandal campaign led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke. 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 National Empty Homes Loan Fund (NEHLF) will enable access to secured loans at a fixed 5% interest rate.
The NEHLF has been funded by a grant of £3m from central government and is being administered by the Ecology Building Society. It is available to individuals aged 18 and over who own a property that has been empty for six months or more. Loans can be between £5,000 and £15,000.
Individuals can either apply for the loan through their participating local authority, or if their local authority is not yet a member of the scheme, directly through Ecology Building Society. Normal identification checks and affordability criteria will apply.
The participating local authorities are: Amber Valley, Boston, Broxtowe, Bury, Cheshire East, Corby, Cornwall, Croydon, Derby, Durham, East Lindsey, East Northants, Eden, Erewash, Exeter, Kirklees, Leeds, Lewisham, Liverpool, Mole Valley, NW Leicestershire, Northumberland, Newcastle Under Lyme, Plymouth, Redbridge, Rochdale, St Albans, St Helens, Sefton, South Holland, South Lakeland, Stoke, Teignbridge, Telford, Torridge, Wakefield, Warrington, Wellingborough, West Lindsey.