'Vacant property plan could save 50,000 North East homes'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government
Council in pioneering funding drive to modernise Brighton's empty housing stock
A new scheme aimed at bringing some of England's 710,000 vacant properties back into use could rejuvenate up to 50,000 homes in the North East, a lettings agent has claimed.
Ajay Jagota, of KIS Lettings, has welcomed the launch of the National Empty Homes Fund, which will see housing charity Empty Homes partner with the Ecology Building Society and 39 councils to tackle the country's uninhabitable properties.
The fund – backed by television star and empty homes campaigner George Clarke – offers property owners low cost loans of £5,000 to £15,000 to renovate homes which have been empty for at least six months.
It has been part-funded by a £3 million grant from the government.
Mr Jagota, who manages properties for 700 landlords across the North East, said: “The biggest obstacle to bringing empty homes back into use is their owners not being able to afford the work needed to bring them up to a habitable standard – the National Empty Property Fund promises to end that problem at a stroke and should be warmly welcomed by the property industry.
“One of the major criticisms of the government’s help to buy scheme is that it risks creating a huge new housing bubble should demand for housing outstrip supply. But projects like the National Empty Homes Fund show how you can rapidly bring new properties to market with just a little innovative thinking and minimal investment.
“The scheme could save 50,000 badly-needed North East homes – and if that means breathing new life into run down communities too, it can only be good news for landlords who already own property in those areas.
“I’ve been calling for action like this for quite some time and had become very concerned that the empty homes bandwagon had rather run out of steam, so it’s good to see it back on the agenda.
“If you own a derelict property, my advice is to talk to a reputable lettings agent about how you might be able to use this fund to turn what could be an albatross around your neck into something which could make a profit for you and help meet your community’s housing needs.”