Cash for landlords to transform homes

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LANDLORDS sitting on rundown derelict properties will get financial help to turn them back into habitable homes.

Housing chiefs are offering landlords up to 50 per cent of the cash needed to fund repair work as part of Sunderland City Council’s drive to reduce the number of empty homes in Sunderland.

Cash to help bring empty properties back into use is coming from £500,000 awarded to the council as part of a new Government scheme to reward authorities for providing more housing.

Empty properties are seen as both a burden to the community and a waste of much-needed homes at a time when housing is at a premium in Wearside and the is strengthening its efforts to tackle the problem.

Councillor Thomas Wright, who has the Sustainable Communities brief on the council’s ruling cabinet, said: “Empty properties are a blight on neighbourhoods which look unsightly and attract burglaries, vandalism and other forms of antisocial behaviour.

“We are committed to helping landlords in Sunderland to bring these empty properties back into use.

“An empty property costs more to maintain and improve than one which is occupied.

“We are trying to get the message out there to landlords that we will not tolerate empty properties in Sunderland, and there is support available to help them bring them back into use.”

The new scheme Empty Property Grant scheme comes after a Selective Licensing Scheme was launched in Hendon last year in partnership with the Back on the Map regeneration organisation.

The scheme has so far seen landlords making applications for licences for more than 600 properties, and improvements to more than 170 privately rented homes.

Figures from www.emptyhomes.com show keeping a property empty cost landlords up to £135 per week, or £7,018 per year.

Coun Wright said the council wants to work with people and communities to identify issues with empty properties as early as possible to prevent issues escalating.

The council won more than £500,000 of “winfdall funding” from the Government’s New Homes Bonus to help increase the city’s housing stock through new-build properties and bringing empty properties back into use.

The funding is available for use across the city, with half of the pot used to offer loans to owners to refurbish empty properties.

The average loan is expected to be about £5,000, with a 50 per cent contribution towards improvement works.

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