Local governments in the UK have started funding landlords to repair any derelict or rundown properties they may have in their portfolio. Sunderland City Council is the latest council to begin financial assistance to landlords in clearing the decks of empty properties in their constituency. The council is offering landlords up to 50% of the cost of repairs as part of its Empty Property Grant scheme.
The money is to come from the £500,000 awarded by the government for initiatives to provide new housing. Empty properties are not only a burden on a neighbourhood; dragging down values and providing nesting sites for crime, but they are also wasted houses at a time when demand for such housing is at an all time high. It is in landlords' best interests to fix these properties, which are massive drains on their business with no tenants and, in many cases mortgage repayments to make on them.
Councillor Thomas Wright 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."
Wright, who has the Sustainable Communities brief on the council’s ruling cabinet added: "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 council of Hendon launched a similar program last year called a Selective Licensing Scheme in partnership with the Back on Map Regeneration Organisation. So far 600 landlords have applied for licenses under the Hendon scheme, and 170 privately rented properties have been renovated for use.
According to council officials in Sunderland half of the £500,000 fund is to be used to help fund repairs to empty properties, with the other half going towards the construction of new-build properties.
- Monday 09 January 2012