Scheme to give loans to owners of empty homes

A new scheme hopes to bring England’s 710,000 empty properties back to life by offering loans up to £15,000 to their owners.

The National Empty Homes Fund (NEHLF); a joint initiative between the charity Empty Homes, Ecology Building Society, central government and 39 participating local authorities, hopes to help solve the national property shortage through use of empty property.

The fund was one of the demands of last year’s Great British Property Scandal campaign led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke.

The campaign says that owners of empty homes are often unable to access funds to bring the properties back into use, creating a vicious cycle of decline in areas with high numbers of empty properties.

The loans will be offered at a fixed 5% interest rate, from a grant of £3 million from central government which is administered by Ecology Building Society, a specialist mortgage lender that supports sustainable communities.

It 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 six months or more.

Empty Homes Ambassador George 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.”

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.”

Individuals can either apply for the loan through their participating local authority or if their local authority is not yet a member of the scheme, directly through Ecology Building Society.

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