Council offers help on empty homes

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Central Bedfordshire Council is reaching out to local residents to ask for their help in raising awareness of a number of fantastic schemes to get local long term empty homes back into use.

The call comes as part of Empty Homes Week 2012, which runs from November 25 to December 1, and highlights the waste of empty property nationwide and celebrates the success of numerous examples and new initiatives to make empty homes, real homes again.

A spokesman for Central Beds Council said: “The problems of empty properties are well known.

“Those that are empty for long periods can become magnets for criminal or unsociable behaviour, can decrease the value of neighbouring properties and are frequently a major source of distress for neighbours.

“In Central Bedfordshire we know where most of the long term empty homes are, and we have been very successful in tackling some of our most troublesome empty homes.

“What we are finding more difficult is encouraging the owners of these homes to take the action to bring their homes back into use.”

There are a number of council support iinitiative in place to combat the problem.

They are:

Empty Home Loan Assistance - offering an interest free loan of up to £15,000 to pay for works to make a house habitable.

Housing Association Leasing Scheme - the council has an agreement with Genesis Housing Association which means empty home owners can get a grant to pay for repairs to their house if they agree to lease their home to Genesis for five or ten years.

Councillor Carole Hegley, executive member for social care, health and housing, said: “Turning a long term empty home into a proper home, is a win win situation, with benefits for everyone involved – families on the housing waiting list, local neighbours and residents, and long-term empty home owners.

“This approach also saves local council tax payers money as it’s proven to be more cost effective and sustainable than building new homes.”

“Thanks to our residents we have been able to identify most of our local empty homes. But we need your help again, to track down the owners of these homes and encourage them to come to us, so that we can tell them what we can do to help.”

“If you’re an empty home owner, or you know someone who is, please get in touch with our Private Sector Housing Team on 0300 300 8302. We have some great examples of how it works.”