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South Lakeland chosen to pilot empty homes improvement scheme
11:52am Wednesday 10th October 2012 in News
SOUTH Lakeland District Council has been chosen as one of 12 local authorities to pilot a scheme offering empty home owners home improvement loans.
The Government-backed scheme, called the National Empty Homes Loans Fund, will see loans of up to £15,000 offered to empty home owners to improve them.
At the same time the homes will be rented out so that the owners can collect rent whilst paying back the loans. The loans will be offered at a flat fixed-term five per-cent repayable over five years.
Housing and Development Portfolio Holder, Coun Jonathan Brook, said: “I am delighted that SLDC has been chosen to help pilot this scheme. As an authority we recognise the negative impact empty homes can have on a community and this scheme is a great opportunity to help solve this problem. It gives empty home owners who are struggling to repair their homes the chance to do so.
“South Lakeland has around 1,000 empty dwellings which are a concern for many residents. The authority sees this pilot scheme as just one of the ways in which we can improve our local communities and create more affordable housing.”
The scheme will be operated by the charity Empty Homes, who are a regulated lender. It will operate on a non-profit basis with operating costs coming from loan repayments. Those eligible to apply for the loans are any empty-home owners.
Conditions of the loan are that the home is renovated to the standard set by the Communities Department, details of which can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/decenthome. The loan will also be made on the condition that affordable rent is charged for the first five years. Affordable rent is defined as 80% of market rent as determined by the loan fund’s surveyor. Tenants for the properties will be nominated by SLDC.
The Government is backing the scheme with a £3 million fund and those wishing to apply can do in November 2012, further details of the process will be released in due course. The pilot scheme will run for one year.