Council ups rates for empty-homes grants

Wed 27 February 2013, 5:52 pm

Ealing Council has increased the maximum grant it is prepared to offer to help the owners of empty homes pay for improvements to get the properties onto the rental market.

From next week, owners of homes that have been empty for more than six months can apply for up to £30,000 to cover the cost of repair work, if they meet the right criteria and the homes are ready for occupation within 12 months of the grant’s approval.

In return, renovated properties must be let out at an affordable rent for a period of five years in a bid to lessen the effects of the borough’s housing shortage.

Lower grant levels are available for properties that have been empty for fewer than six months, or for owners who want to bring their properties up to Decent Homes standards and rent them out under the management of registered social landlords.

Councillor Hitesh Tailor, Ealing’s housing lead, said that since the council’s empty homes grant scheme was first introduced 10 years ago, more than 430 properties had been brought back into use, with a further 55 expected to be restored in the next 18 months.

“With a severe shortage of affordable housing available, we need to do everything we can to bring empty properties back into use for those most in need of a home,” he said.

“By helping good landlords to bring their properties up to scratch we are also dealing with problems such as anti-social behaviour or crime which can result from homes being left empty for long periods.”

The council and the Homes and Communities Agency jointly fund the scheme.

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