Ealing changes empty property grant scheme

Ealing Council has approved a scheme which could give £30,000 grants to owners of empty homes to get them to restore them to habitable homes.

Ealing Council’s cabinet agreed a range of changes to the existing empty property grant scheme which aims to reduce the borough’s housing shortage by bringing unoccupied homes back into use. In return, homes must be let out at an affordable rent for five years.

Owners of empty homes can now apply for one of four various grants available, subject to conditions.

Under the scheme, owners of homes which have been empty for more than six months and are in need of work, could qualify for up to 100% of the cost of repairs, with a maximum £30,000 on offer.

Properties would need to be brought up to national decent homes standards, and be ready for occupation within 12 months of the date of grant approval.

Grants of up to £25,000 will also be available which offer the owner the choice of either allowing their property to be managed by a registered social landlord for at least five years or managing the property themselves by becoming an accredited landlord. Currently the maximum offered for this scheme is £15,000.

A new component of the scheme will also see grants of up to 100% of repairs, up to a maximum of £25,000, to refurbish properties to make them suitable for tenants with disabilities.

Homes that have been empty for less than six months could be eligible for a grant of up to £5,000. The landlord would need to agree to house people nominated by the council for five years.

Since the scheme was introduced in 2003, more than 430 properties have been brought back into use, with a further 55 expected to be restored in the next 18 months.

Councillor Hitesh Tailor, cabinet member for housing, said: “With a severe shortage of affordable housing available, we need to do everything we can to bring empty properties back into use for those most in need of a home.

“By helping good landlords to bring their properties up to scratch we are also dealing with problems such as anti-social behaviour or crime which can result from homes being left empty for long periods.”

Improvements have been funded by the council and Homes and Communities Agency.

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