From Cornwall Council:
This week is Empty Homes Week which turns the spotlight on what help is available to bring empty properties back into use. If you have an empty property in Cornwall, we can help you turn it back into a home. We have loan funding available, and the amount that can be borrowed has increased and is now up to £60,000 for a single home and up to £210,000 where there are a number of potential homes involved.
Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell said: “We’re committed to delivering homes for residents in Cornwall and that includes helping owners to bring empty properties back into use. There are around 3,000 properties in Cornwall classified as being empty and unused for longer than 6 months.”
“We want to work with empty property owners to alleviate their problems in getting funds to renovate potential homes which will also help to address the housing shortage in Cornwall. A wide range of help is available and, in most cases, there are realistic solutions to problems which are preventing properties being brought back into use.”
The Council’s Empty Property Loan scheme has already lent over £2 million to property owners, resulting in over 120 properties being brought back into use.
If a property is in need of improvement to improve the chances of a sale, or work is required to help an owner to secure finance, then a loan from the Council could be a solution.
The loan is recovered either on the sale of the property via a legal charge, or within 12 weeks of the completion of works, so there are no monthly repayments. If the owner pays back the loan within 12 weeks of completing the work, then there is no obligation to sell the property.
To be considered for a loan, the property has to have been empty for a minimum of 6 months. Loans can also be used to convert long term empty non-residential properties into dwellings or to sub-divide larger existing dwellings. Once work is completed, properties must be available for full-time residential use and must meet the Council’s Cornwall Rental Standards. In addition, owners will be advised how to meet minimum energy efficiency standards.
Business partners Neil and David bought a property in Higher Brea near Camborne which had been empty for over 5 years. They got planning permission to convert the large house into 2 x 3 bedroom family homes in an area of high housing demand. They were successful in getting a loan of £40,000.
Neil said: “When looking for finance to convert our property into 2 x 3 bedroom homes, the Council’s loan scheme was a very worthwhile option. It helped us with cash-flow and enabled us to create 2 homes of a very high standard. We would not hesitate to recommend the scheme to any empty property owners who need to do renovation works, particularly now that the loan terms are even more favourable.”
In addition to loan assistance, we can help in other ways. We can:
- provide evidence to help support applications to HMRC for VAT concessions on eligible works;
- market properties to their investor database;
- make referrals to Private Sector Leasing Schemes which guarantee rental income.