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Bringing empty properties back into use

More affordable homes could become available for people to rent in Herefordshire as a result of a new loan scheme to help bring derelict properties back into use.

With nearly 5,000 people on the housing register for affordable housing across the county, Herefordshire Council is keen to help local landlords get their properties refurbished and back on the market.  The scheme launched by the council this month helps to do this by providing interest free loans to fund the necessary work.

There are currently 1,493 privately owned empty properties in Herefordshire, including 860 properties* classed as long term which have been vacant for more than six months. 

Working in partnership with West Mercia Housing, the council wants to provide an incentive for property owners to repair some of these empty properties and help meet the growing demand for accommodation.

Councillor Russell B. Hamilton, cabinet member for environment, housing and planning, said: “Whilst we have a good record of achievement for tackling the issue of empty homes in Herefordshire because of the hard work and dedication of our housing team I welcome the introduction of the new scheme, as it represents another positive step to increase the options to encourage owners of empty properties to bring them back into use.

“Although there can be many reasons why properties are left empty Properties there are times when this is because they have been bequeathed to people who simply don’t know what to do with them. 

“In this current economic climate, it is helpful to have as many options as possible to encourage owners, landlords, developers and other small scale investors to help tackle the issue of empty properties.  At a time when borrowing from other sources is becoming increasingly difficult, offering an interest free loan provides a better option.” 

To be eligible for a free loan, the property must have been empty for 12 months or more and be in an area of housing need.  The size of loan will range from £1,000-15,000 per unit or property and a two to five year interest free repayment plan will be agreed.
Anyone interested is advised to contact the council on 01432 261905 or visit the website at http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/housing/empty_homes/3563.asp.