Council raising awareness of National Empty Homes Week 2018 (15-21 October)

Loans are available through East Devon District Council for home owners wanting to bring empty property back into use

It’s National Empty Homes Week (15 to 21 October 2018) and East Devon District Council is keen to help raise awareness of the issue of empty homes, as well as to celebrate progress and consider what more needs to be done to bring empty properties back into use to help meet housing needs.

In October 2017, the number of long-term empty homes recorded by English local authorities was 205,293. Not only are empty properties typically unsightly as their condition deteriorates over time, they also bring down the value of neighbouring properties and reduce the availability of local housing.  East Devon District Council encourages empty property owners to bring their properties back into use by bringing them up to a decent standard so they can be rented out.

The council works in partnership with not-for-profit lender Wessex Resolutions CIC to provide finance for home repairs. This enables an owner to then either rent their newly renovated property or put it on the market or move back into it themselves. By bringing an empty property back into use, the local community benefits through the addition of new housing and a pleasant place to live.

Through providing loans, the council is ensuring that funds for homeowners are sustainable, which means that every repayment goes back into the council pot to lend to homeowners in the future.

Siblings, Chris and Julie took a loan from Wessex Resolutions CIC to bring their empty property back into use.

Having inherited a property in the South West which was uninhabitable, Chris and his sister Julie were not having any luck selling it. They were facing the burden of a long-term empty property. Wessex Resolutions CIC provided a capital repayment loan to enable Chris and Julie to realise the value of their asset and to bring an empty property back into use.

Councillor Jill Elson, Portfolio holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities, is a passionate advocate for returning empty homes into use, saying:

The Private Sector Housing team continues to build on the good work they have carried out to bring long term empty properties back into use. Collaboration with other council services is also proving effective in tackling these problem properties and we will continue to build on these shared efforts.

Private Sector Housing officers have a tough job, which involves identifying and pursuing irresponsible owners of empty properties. But what people must remember is that every empty home, which is restored to use, makes a difference to both district and national housing stock needs by providing a home for a family.