MP calls for empty homes to be brought back into use
To coincide with National Empty Home Week (24 - 30 November), local MP Tim Farron is highlighting the support and advice available to local homeowners who have empty properties.
There are around 1,000 homes standing empty within South Lakeland, but now a new scheme aims to bring some of those back into circulation and to provide much needed homes within the area.
In a joint initiative between South Lakeland District Council, the charity Empty Homes, central government and the Ecology Building Society, provide loans of up to £15,000 to owners of empty properties to help bring them back into affordable use.
The fund was one of the demands of last year's Great British Property Scandal campaign led by architect and broadcaster George Clarke. Currently, 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 National Empty Homes Loan Fund (NEHLF) enables access to secured loans at a fixed 5% interest rate and will enable owners to renovate the property to Decent Homes standard. The NEHLF has been funded by a grant of £3 million from central government which is being 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.
The council has also used Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs). The orders allow the council to take over dilapidated local properties. The council then furbish the properties and the cost will eventually be recouped from the rent after the properties are given to a local family to live in. Tim wants to see more of these orders used.
Tim said: "Empty homes blight communities, attract crime and deprive people of available housing in our community. I am asking owners of empty homes to look at the options and support available to bring it back into use. Every empty property we can bring back into use will give us a chance to house a local family."