A SCHEME that has seen more than 300 empty properties brought back into use has been extended for a further six months.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s empty homes and wasted space strategy aims to work with home owners to transform properties that have been empty for more than 12 months into rentable homes.
The strategy which was launched in 2009 has so far seen more than 300 empty properties restored to a habitable state.
Anne Gower, portfolio holder for housing, licensing and environmental health, said: “In this day and age with all the stresses on housing provision we have to work with people through schemes such as this.
“An empty home is a home that a family can use. The scheme is beneficial to people who are looking for a home and for the owner as we can loan them the money to start work on the property and put them in touch with Housing Action who will help them to bring the property back into use.”
In December 2011, 301 properties in the borough were identified as having been empty for more than six months 123 of which had been empty for more than 12 months and three of which had been empty for more than 10 years.
The owners of all 123 properties that have been empty for more than 12 months are currently involved in negotiations with council officers.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has set aside £75,000 of its 2012/13 budget to loan to home owners to allow them to undertake the work needed to make their properties habitable.
In return, landlords give nomination rights to the council which works with Housing Action to rent the properties to people in need of a home.
Housing Action manages the properties for the owners ensuring guaranteed rent as well as compensating them for damage or tenant debt.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has urged people to contact them if they believe that a property near them has been empty for more than 12 months to allow them to work with the owner to bring it back into use.