Thursday, 21 August 2014

Landlords offered £30k to improve empty homes

Ealing Council in London has offered the owners of empty homes £30,000 to make their properties suitable to rent.

The new empty property grant scheme has been designed to reduce the west London borough’s housing shortage.

In return for the grants, owners must commit to letting their properties at an affordable rent for a minimum of five years.

Under the scheme, owners can apply for a grant for up to 100 per cent of the cost of repairs – to a maximum of £30,000 – as long as the houses have been empty for more than six months. The property must be ready to be occupied within 12 months of the grant being approved.

The council will also offer grants of up to £25,000 for homeowners that allow their properties to be managed by a registered social landlord for five years.

The overhauled empty homes grant scheme will also include the introduction of a free ‘matchmaking’ service to connect owners of empty homes in disrepair with people who want to buy and renovate them.

Hitesh Tailor, cabinet member for housing at Ealing, said: ‘With a severe shortage of affordable housing available, we need to do everything we can to bring empty properties back into use for those most in need of a home.

‘By helping good landlords to bring their properties up to scratch we are also dealing with problems such as anti-social behaviour or crime which can result from homes being left empty for long periods.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • Chris

    This should help bring so many former socially rented homes back into use at vastly higher private rents.

    The Labour Councillor quoted appears oblivious of the fact that this scheme is not going to provide affordable homes and so will not address the shortage of such caused by previous Council policy and the Right-to-buy.

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  • Chris - direct quote, paragraph 3 "In return for the grants, owners must commit to letting their properties at an affordable rent for a minimum of five years."
    So that's the council paying £6k a year to bring a property into affordable use, a not unreasonable amount in my opinion.

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  • If the affordable rent is 80% of market value it is a good deal for the landlord.

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  • Chris

    John B - you have fallen into the simplistic error of believing Affordable Housing is affordable.

    Average and low waged workers cannot afford the rent levels described as Affordable - and the State cannot afford the benefit payable so that those workers can afford the Affordable housing.

    So what you are calling in support of is the spending of taxpayer funding to subsidise the creation of an even higher taxpayer funding of housing benefit - not very wise John B.

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  • No Chris, what I'm supporting is the concept of bring back into constructive use properties that serve no purpose, providing homes for people that could otherwise not live in such a property/area.
    You've fallen into the simplistic error of assuming the only people that shouldn't be paying full market rent are those on minimum/low wages. Like it not the chances of them leading us out of a recession are pretty minimal, London needs to be more affordable for a wide range of income bands, and despite what you might like to believe 20% less in rent would make a huge difference to the lifestyles and spending power of plenty of households - and their money could then be going into the economy rather than a landlords pocket.
    If somebody has a vacant property they have several choices - one of which would be to invest in the property themselves and rent at full market rate (or sell it somebody that will). Would you rather this was done and the landlord charged the full market rate, sucking more money out of the economy?
    This doesn't strike me as "affordable vs proper social rent" issue, these properties are not magically going to be donated to the state for the greater good. It's simply should we reduce the amount of rent paid by some people or not. I'd say yes.

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  • Chris

    And a return to affordability levels that can be afforded by the average waged would not offer homes with more affordability to others John B?

    Yes, the above average earners need housing too - I've not argued against that, but to invest solely for their benefit is to miss an opportunity to benefit all those struggling to afford housing.

    How about measures to restore the market rate to something that can be afforded by people and the nation John B - or is that an unworthy aim too?

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  • Chris - I'm certainly not suggesting we should give up on the ideal of genuine social rent as a tenure, merely that it's unlikely to be a suitable use for all housing, both existing and proposed.

    A relatively small investment could bring back into use vacant, unproductive space to provide an "affordable" (by many people's standards) home. I don't see the problem, but I don't think we'll agree. Fair enough. I think reflects our respective "glass half full", "glass half empty and some rapacious landlord is about to glug the rest" outlooks.

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  • Chris

    No, you are right John B - I mean if we are going to give private landlords' bankers £1/2k per month per tenancy, why not give them 5-years worth as a lump sum up front, and then let them use that to keep market rents as high as possible - so that 80%MR remains as expensive as possible. - brilliantly positive.

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  • ...much better to just leave them empty while we have families living in B&Bs. Top plan Chris.

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  • im very much with you chris we should be looking at providing affordable housing to all but it's also true that the community that is most affected by these very high rents are those on low wages or state benefits im very much against private landlords being given huge amounts of tax payers money given that they are very much to blame for the constant greed shown in relation to housing benefit.my other concern is if they can find money for this why are they not looking at increasing affordable housing that belongs to the people of Ealing if you was being really honest they might as well give that to people on waiting list and allow them to buy the home based on a 10% deposit that gives them the ability to buy a property up to a value of £300.000 and for the council they can put an attachment to the property to ensure people cant just use it to increase a property portfolio which given that sort of money to landlords does just exactly that.with the added problem that they go on to cost the benefit system far too much cash.the only people seeing benefits as a way of life are those landlords that get the housing benefits

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