What is the National Empty Homes Loans Fund?
The National Empty Homes Loans fund is now open in two pilot areas Northumberland and Merseyside, it offers low interest loans to owners of empty homes to help them bring them into use as affordable housing. The fund will be launched nationally later this year.
The loans fund was one of the demands of Channel 4′s “Great British Property Scandal” campaign led by architect and independent Empty Homes Adviser George Clarke. Government operated empty homes loans funds have already been announced in Scotland and Wales, this fund will operate across England.
Loans will be available to pay for works needed to bring empty properties into use. The resultant homes must be affordable. This means that they will need to be let an affordable rent (no more than 80% of the market rent) for at least five years. Homes will also need to be renovated to at least the Decent Homes Standard.
The fund will be run jointly by Empty Homes and a building society. It has been made possible by a grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme.
The loan fund is currently open in Merseyside and Northumberland. Applications can be made via the local authority in these areas.
Reaction to the National Empty Homes Loans Fund
George Clarke said: “This is a really exciting development because it marks the point at which the campaign begins to deliver real change to start ending the scandal of empty homes”
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:” The number of empty homes in this country is a national disgrace – for every two families that need a home there is one standing empty. Empty homes bring down a neighbourhood and attract vandals and fly-tipping, as well as being a waste of much needed housing. I’m delighted to see this loan fund announced today that will bring these houses back to life and offer families a chance of a stable and secure home.”
Empty Homes Chief Executive David Ireland said “This is fantastic news; the loans fund will help ordinary people and property owners get homes back into use for people who need housing. The fund will recycle loans, meaning it will be able to operate long into the future and bring many hundreds if not thousands of empty homes back into use”