New fund hopes to ease housing shortage

Empty homes could be brought back into use.
Empty homes could be brought back into use.
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An innovative new scheme aimed at bringing some of England’s 710,000 empty homes back into use began this week.

In a joint initiative between the charity Empty Homes, 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 to help bring them back into affordable use.

The aim is to ease the current homes shortage.

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, will enable access to secured loans at a fixed five per cent interest rate, and will enable owners to renovate the property to Decent Homes standard.

It has been funded by a grant of £3m from central government and is being administered by Ecology Building Society, a specialist mortgage lender that supports sustainable communities.

It should provide funding for hundreds of properties and is available to individuals aged 18 and over who own a property that has been empty for six months or more.

You can apply through participating councils or the Ecology Building Society. For full details go to www.emptyhomes.co.uk.

Mr 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.”