A number of initiatives have been introduced in Stafford as part of a national campaign to bring empty homes back in to use.
The national Empty Homes Week gets underway on Monday (23 September) and Stafford Borough Council has introduced ways of tackling the issue.
Recent figures reveal that 670 properties have been empty for more than six months and the council is currently consulting on a draft strategy to bring them back in to use - a move that could also raise extra money for the authority.
As well as the financial incentive, other benefits of filling the vacant properties include:
- More homes for local people to live in
- Reducing vandalism and anti-social behaviour
- Creating better environments for residents
The initiatives include interest free loans of up to £10,000 to help people do properties up and specialist advice about getting a home on the rental market.
There are many reasons a house may be empty for a long period such as it being the subject of a will, or an unwanted inheritance, or the owner not having the funds to bring it to an acceptable standard.
Cabinet Member for Communities, Jeremy Pert, said: “We have carried out a borough-wide assessment of all the empty homes to understand the extent of the issues involved. Our aim is to bring 50 of these properties back in to use each year.
“It is only fair for our communities taking new housing development that we also focus in on bringing as many empty properties back into use to minimise the numbers of new builds across the Borough. The fact that this will also support Council services is a double win, for some of the properties that have been the cause of concern to many in the community.”
He added: “Our strategy cuts across all our key council priorities - that is, it will deliver growth, improve quality of life for local people and support us financially.”
Filling a long-term vacant property attracts money from government called ‘New Homes Bonus’ - which could see the council receiving £1,340 for each Band D property it brought back in to use for a four-year period.
Councillor Pert continued: “I hope ‘Empty Homes Week’ will help increase awareness of how we can help bring properties back into use to ensure they are not a blight on the community.”
The consultation on a draft empty homes strategy ends on Wednesday 30 October and to give feedback go to www.staffordbc.gov.uk/empty-homes
Press Release No 5560