|A SCHEME to get empty properties up to scratch and available to those in need of housing is being been re-launched during National Empty Homes week (22 – 29 November).|
The Thames Gateway South Essex (TGSE) Strategic Housing group, which is made up of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend and Thurrock councils, is working with private property owners.
Over the next two years, the TGSE sub region will receive additional funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to help bring these empty properties back into use.
In a change to the original scheme owners will be able to get their own tradesman like kitchen fitters, roofers, carpet fitters and electricians to do the work which will boost the local economy. The scheme had previously restricted owners to using an appointed contractor to carry out repairs.
Councillor Phil Turner, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing and landlord services at Basildon Council, a member of the TGSE Sub Regional Strategic housing Group, said:
“This scheme will improve the housing choice of families waiting for housing and will provide a long term contribution to meeting the sub region’s housing need.
“All the partners are keen to be pro-active and improve accommodation standards to provide a greater range of available properties.
“The scheme has the added value of reducing the eyesore of empty homes and will help increase the sustainability of housing options in the area.”
Under the scheme property owners and the local authorities will identify properties that would benefit from renovation and then agree terms.
Local authorities will then offer a mixture of a grant and interest free loan of up to £50,000 per property to bring the homes up to decent homes standards.
If a loan is required, this will then be recovered when the property is sold or transferred by placing a charge on the property.
Local Housing Allowance rent levels will be set for all properties in the scheme. Long term recovery of the loan (if applicable) will ensure the initiative is self funding.