A scheme aimed to bring England's empty homes back to use in order to tackle the housing shortage in England launches today.
A joint initiative between Empty Homes, Ecology Building society, central government and 39 participating local authorities are aiming to bring as many of the 710,000 empty homes in England back into use as possible.
Last year's Great British Property Scandal demanded the fund as part of their campaign, led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke.
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.'
The scheme is set to provide loans of up to £15,000 to owners of empty properties to help them back into affordable use. This is because currently, owners of empty homes struggle to access funds to regenerate them.
The National Empty Homes Loan Fund will give people access to loans at a fixed 5% interest rate, which will enable owners to renovate the property to Decent Homes standard. The NEHLF have been funded by a grant of £3 million from central government and is being administered by Ecology Building Society, a specialist mortgage lender that supports sustainable communities.
David Ireland OBE, chief executive of Empty Homes, 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.'
Communities minister Don Foster said: ‘I'm delighted that this loan fund, backed with Government cash, will help bring hundreds of empty homes back into use across the country.
‘This innovative new scheme will ensure properties that would otherwise have stood empty for many months can offer stable homes for people in need.'
The loans are five year loans and have fixed interest rate of 5% to the owners of empty properties. To be eligible for an NEHLF loan you must:
• Be the owner of an empty property in England that has been empty for six months or more.
• Be over 18 years old.
• Not borrow more than 70% of the property's value in total (including the loan).
• Have the ability to repay the loan.