Cheshire East supports fund for empty homes

Simon Donohue

A scheme to help bring empty homes back into use is being backed by Cheshire East Council.

The aim of the newly-launched National Empty Homes Loan Fund is to help tackle the country's housing shortage.

In Cheshire East there are currently 1,371 properties that have been empty for between six months and a year. In addition, a further 944 homes have been empty for longer than two years.

Many homes in the borough remain empty because owners are often unable to access funds to repair them. In England as a whole there are more than 710,000 empty homes.

Cheshire East Council, the charity Empty Homes and central government are managing the NEHLF locally. The Ecology Building Society, a specialist mortgage lender that supports sustainable communities, will administer it.

The NEHLF will allow access to secured loans of up to £15,000 at a fixed five per cent interest rate and will enable owners to renovate the property to a national standard.

Funding will be available to individuals aged 18 and over, who own a property that has been empty for six months or more.

The scheme will operate alongside the council's existing Empty Homes Assistance scheme, which offers homeowners loans of up to £10,000 to carry out repairs to bring their empty homes back into use.

Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Cabinet member in charge of housing, planning, economic development and regeneration, said: "We know that many properties are lying empty in the borough because owners simply do not have the money needed to bring them back up to a habitable standard. This new initiative we are supporting will give a real boost to helping to tackle this."

The NEHLF is funded by a £3m grant from central government and should provide loans to get more than 2,000 properties back into use nationwide. The scheme is backed by 39 local authorities.

Owners of empty properties can either apply for the loan through the Council or directly through the Ecology Building Society.

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