A new scheme aiming to tackle homes sitting empty despite a national housing shortage has been launched in England.
The National Empty Homes Fund (NEHLF) will provide loans of up to £15,000 to owners of properties that have sat empty for at least six months to help bring them back to a standard at which they can be rented out.
Property owners will be able to access a secured loan at a fixed 5% interest rate through Ecology Building Society, which will take out a second charge against the property if the owner has an existing mortgage in place.
To be eligible for the loan, property owners must not have secured borrowing of more than 70% of the property's value in total - including the NEHLF loan.
Property owners can apply for the loan through their participating local authority or if theirs is not yet a member of the scheme they can apply directly through Ecology Building Society.
The NEHLF initiative aims to break the vicious cycle of decline that exists in areas with high numbers of empty properties due to the fact many would-be landlords are often unable to access funds to bring the properties back into use.
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The fund has been launched by the charity Empty Homes, Ecology Building Society, central government and 39 local authorities in response to last year's Great British Property Scandal campaign – led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke.
New life for neglected property
Paul Ellis, chief executive of Ecology Building Society, said: "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.
Clarke added: "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."
Local councils already participation in the scheme include Amber Valley, Boston, Broxtowe, Bury, Cheshire East, Corby, Cornwall, Croydon, Derby, Durham, East Lindsey, East Northants, Eden, Erewash, Exeter, Kirklees, Leeds, Lewisham, Liverpool, Mole Valley, NW Leicestershire, Northumberland, Newcastle Under Lyme, Plymouth, Redbridge, Rochdale, St Albans, St Helens, Sefton, South Holland, South Lakeland, Stoke, Teignbridge, Telford, Torridge, Wakefield, Warrington, Wellingborough, West Lindsey.
More information about the scheme can be found at emptyhomes.com.