It’s National Empty Homes Week 2018 next week (15th to 21st October) and across the Country, it’s a chance to raise awareness, 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. In Torridge 683 properties are currently classed as empty with 317 classed as long-term empty for six months or more. There are a number of negatives regarding empty properties for they can become unsightly as their condition deteriorates over time, and may also suppress the value of neighbouring properties. Most importantly though they reduce the availability of much needed local housing. Torridge Council is actively working with empty property owners to assist them to bring their properties back into use.
The council also work 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.
Working in partnership with Wessex 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.
Councillor Cathrine Simmons – Lead Member for Housing said:
“The shortage of housing, particularly at the affordable level, is well documented right across the Country. In Torridge, we are proud to be working with Wessex Resolutions as one way of addressing the problem. This not for profit organisation can often make a difference where people are struggling to find funds to improve or bring their properties back into use. While the level of empty properties has fallen since a peak of 1033 in 2008 we hope that a few more can be added through the loan scheme Wessex has to offer”