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Local firm to help landlords
A Silsden-based building society will be at the helm of a Government scheme to breathe new life into the country’s empty homes.
The National Empty Homes Loan Fund will offer loans of up to £15,000 to owners of empty properties to help bring them back into affordable use.
Currently, many owners of empty properties struggle to get the loans they need to make them habitable, while thousands of families in Bradford are on social housing waiting lists.
The new £3 million scheme is being funded by central Government and will be administered by the Ecology Building Society.
Landlords can apply for a loan of between £5,000 and £15,000 to bring their properties up to a decent standard. They must then let out their homes at an affordable level of rent and can’t sell the property until they’ve paid the loan back.
The idea is for people to apply for the loans through their local council and, so far, 39 local authorities are on board, including Kirklees but not Bradford.
People in Bradford can still ask for a loan, but they would apply directly to Ecology Building Society.
Paul Ellis, chief executive of Ecology Building Society, said: “We exist to support projects that will benefit the environment and local communities, so it’s natural for us to want to support efforts to bring empty homes back into use.
“This can affect any street in any town. At a time when there is increasing demand for homes but an acute lack of supply it makes sense to bring new life to existing but neglected properties, and we want to help provide the incentive for people to take on an empty home.”
Yorkshire has one of the highest levels of empty homes in England.
Currently 88,910 properties, 3.8 per cent of all homes in Yorkshire, are empty. Only the North West has a higher rate of empty properties, at 4.11 per cent.
The new scheme was welcomed by Rob Warm, the National Housing Federation’s Yorkshire lead manager.
He said: “We know about the housing crisis Bradford faces and the number of families on the waiting list, so anything that can begin to address that is really welcomed.
“But it’s not the whole solution, it’s only part of the solution. We need to be building more affordable homes and making better use of our existing stock.”