A HOUSING group has announced it is to sell a number of empty homes which a debate in Parliament heard could go for as little as £1.
Accent housing association, which manages 361 social housing properties in Horden and Blackhall, says it has reluctantly taken the decision after exhausting all other avenues including approaching other landlords.
It is seeking consent from the Homes and Communities Agency to dispose of 30 empty homes in Blackhall and 130 in Horden.
Claire Stone, Accent’s director of communities and assets, said: “We have worked really hard to find the best possible solution for these homes and have had a dedicated project team in place with Durham County Council and the Homes and Communities Agency to explore all the options.
“We had hoped that other social landlords with stock in the area would take them on, but unfortunately this has not proved possible.
“We have therefore reluctantly decided to dispose of the properties as they fall empty.
“We will continue to work closely with residents and local representatives to ensure that they are fully supported throughout this process.”
During a debate in the House of Commons last week called by Easington MP Grahame Morris, the Government suggested such homes could be sold off for as little as £1 with new owners being required to renovate them.
But Mr Morris said there was a feeling Accent was abandoning the community and said they should not be allowed to walk away from their responsibilities.
Ms Stone added: “As a responsible social landlord, we need to ensure that our stock is fit for the future.
“We are under an obligation to secure the best possible value for money for all of our residents into the future and our robust asset management strategy has identified that these properties are not sustainable for us as a social landlord.”
Accent says it has invested £8.6m in the area but would have to spend a further £7m to bring the houses up to the required standard.
The social housing provider says it intends to sell more of its 321 properties in Blackhall and Horden as they become vacant.
It says it is visiting all residents in the areas affected.
So far, more than 130 households have requested a move while those who wish to will remain Accent tenants.