Bringing empty homes back into use

Northumberland County Council is bringing empty homes back into use.
Northumberland County Council is bringing empty homes back into use.

Empty homes across Northumberland will be brought back into use thanks to a project being delivered by the county council.

Thirty homes will be repaired and released back onto the rental market, using a £750,000 grant from the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) affordable housing programme.

The council will now be working with private landlords, who currently have homes which have been empty for two years or more, to identify the homes to be included.

Each home will be assessed in terms of its viability, such as cost of repair work, future rental potential, housing need in the area and the impact of it remaining empty on a community.

The council will purchase and repair a number of empty homes, which once rented, would then be managed by the council’s Homes for Northumberland team.

Using an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO), the council will also take over the management of up to 25 empty homes. Using the grant, these homes would be returned to a habitable condition and rented out.

Where possible this will be done with the consent and agreement of the landlord or owner. However, if an agreement can not be made the council has the power, under the EDMO, to take the property from the owner to secure its future.

It is hoped that repair work to the homes will be complete next year with each being available to rent no later than 2018.

The council’s business chairman, Scott Dickinson, said: “The council is committed to bringing empty homes back into use, where they can benefit and improve a community.”

He added: “Empty properties can have a negative impact on the sustainability of an area, affecting everything from local businesses to public services, such as schools and transport.

“Thanks to this funding from the HCA, we will now be able to work with private landlords to identify properties, which could be given a new lease of life and become a much-needed family home.”