Stoke offers £1 empty homes
Stoke-on-Trent Council will offer families empty homes for £1 in a bid to get more properties back into use.
Under the scheme, which would be open to anyone classed as ‘economically viable’, neglected council properties sold for a nominal fee, and then, loans of up to £30,000 would be made to families. They would also receive the details of work to carry out and a list of authorised contractors to do it.
The families would then be expected to make the houses their primary home.
Funding would come from a £1.5 million pot from the government which would be match-funded by the council.
The loans would be paid back over a period of time and recycled to use on other properties.
Similar loans would also be available to existing owners of long-term empty homes.
Although the scheme is open to anyone eligible, it will be focussed towards households which face being hit by the government’s welfare reforms, and who might want to move in order to avoid the bedroom tax.
The tax penalises people in receipt of housing benefit who are deemed to have a spare room.
Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, said: ‘The idea would mean the council sells empty properties acquired with housing market renewal grant for a nominal fee and provide new home owners with a loan of up to £30,000 to implement a series of improvement works that the council deems necessary to bring the property back to a decent home standard.
‘Owners of long term empty homes may also be offered a loan with the same conditions.
‘This money would then be paid back to the council as part of a loan repayment scheme and reinvested to improve other empty properties in the city. If agreed by cabinet, the council will consult with local residents and empty property owners about the plans with a view to starting the scheme in 2013.’