Sunderland leaders back innovative new ways of dealing with empty properties

Council bosses have backed a new scheme aiming to tackle empty properties on Wearside.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 2:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 3:03 pm

Sunderland City Council is to begin a new ‘private sector housing leasing scheme,’ which will allow the local authority to improve private housing stock across the city.

As part of the scheme, the council would lease empty properties from the private sector, improve housing conditions where necessary and let the properties to residents on the council’s housing register.

Council bosses say the scheme will help bring empty homes back into use while building a large stock of good standard homes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The scheme will also focus on properties owned by landlords who don’t have the funds to bring the property up to standard, or lack the skills to manage their properties effectively.

Significant delays in such cases can see homes falling into disrepair, which can begin to negatively affect local communities by creating issues such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

A report on the initiative was presented to Sunderland City Council’s cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday (September 13) – which includes two leasing models.

The first will be used where properties are in a good condition and meet minimum rental standards, while the second will see the council’s building services team carry out a range of improvements, with costs paid back by the landlord during the course of the lease.

In both models, the properties will be allocated to tenants from the council’s housing register and managed as part of the council’s housing service.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, cabinet member for Dynamic City, said the scheme aimed to have a positive impact on issues within the private sector.

He told the cabinet: “These lease models have been developed to create additional interventions that will assist in tackling empty properties, poor housing conditions and associated adverse community impacts within the private sector housing environment.

“Financial models have been developed which have considered the risks to the council and have been mitigated against, ensuring that the models provide a good investment for the council and that each lease should provide a small positive return over its term.

“These new lease models will only benefit our residents and communities.”

The scheme is part of a wider council Housing Delivery and Investment Plan to enable local people to access homes that they need while living as independently as possible.

A report prepared for cabinet said that an option not to proceed with the leasing models was considered but rejected, as the new models would “provide wider intervention options available to tackling empty properties in the city.”

The report goes on to say: “The application of private sector leasing will [also] increase the range of housing options available for local people who are waiting for homes from the council’s housing register.”

For more information about the schemes, call 0800 234 6084 or email [email protected]

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest on SAFC and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.