A new scheme has been launched to bring almost ¾ Million empty residential properties back into full time use in a bid to tackle the UK’s current housing shortage.
Over 710,000 residential properties are currently lying derelict and empty across the UK, because the owners have not been able to afford to renovate or refurbish them back to a habitable standard.
In a joint venture initiative between Government, 39 participating local authorities, the Empty Homes charity and the Ecology Building Society, the scheme aims to provide loans of up to £15,000 (GBP) to owners of empty residential properties to help bring them affordably back into use.
The fund was one of the demands of last year’s Great British Property Scandal campaign led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke.
Until now, owners of empty properties were unable to access funds without selling their souls, to bring the dilapidated residential properties back into use, creating a vicious cycle of decline within 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, and will enable owners to renovate the property to at least meet the Decent Homes standard.
The NEHLF has been funded by a grant of £3 Million (GBP) from the UK Government and is being administered by a specialist mortgage lender that supports sustainable communities – Ecology Building Society.
The National Empty Homes Loan Fund (NEHLF), 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 6 months or more.
George Clarke commented on the launch of the NEHLF scheme, saying:”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.”
Chief Executive of Empty Homes, David Ireland OBE, said:”We know that many homes are empty because it is difficult for owners to raise the money that is required to bring them back up to a habitable standard. This initiative will kick-start efforts to tackle this. 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.”
Chief Executive of Ecology Building Society, Paul Ellis, said: “We exist to support projects that will benefit the environment and local communities, so it’s natural for us to want to support efforts to bring empty homes back into use. This can affect any street in any town. At a time when there is increasing demand for homes but an acute lack of supply it makes sense to bring new life to existing but neglected properties, and we want to help provide the incentive for people to take on an empty home.”
Owners of empty properties can either apply for the loan through their participating local authority or directly through the Ecology Building Society, if their local authority is not yet a member of the scheme.
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