Council to provide help to get empty homes back into use

Councillor Steve Ricketts outside Asa House, one of our flagship Empty Homes projects. The former derelict job centre was converted to 30 affordable flats last year.

More empty homes will be enabled to be brought back into occupation in Plymouth, after Plymouth City Council agreed more support for empty home owners.

The Council has agreed the Empty Homes Financial Assistance Policy, which enables empty home owners to apply for financial assistance up to £50,000 per unit of accommodation, up to a total of £150,000 per property.

All eligible applicants will be offered 10% of the total amount of financial assistance as a grant, with the remaining 90% as repayable loan. The policy will also provide 25% of the financial assistance as a grant where owners agree to let their properties at an affordable rent through one of the city’s recognised social lettings scheme (for example HouseLet and EasyLet) or through a housing association.

The new policy follows the Council’s Plan for Homes launched last year, providing an investment of £1 million which aims to bring 375 empty homes back into use by 2021.

Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery said: “We are committed to tackling empty homes in Plymouth and very pleased to be able to offer assistance to local people to help bring empty homes back into use. An empty home is a wasted home, they can attract vermin, increase the risk of break-ins, vandalism, arson, and can devalue neighbouring homes by as much as 20%.

“Our work to tackle empty homes will also improve the local environment by removing eyesore derelict properties and the anti-social behaviour they often attract, so it is a win-win situation. I have seen for myself when visiting different parts of the city how long-term empty homes really can blight local communities and we are determined to do all we that we can.”

There are 678 homes in Plymouth which have been empty for more than six months, whilst 8973 households are registered on Devon Home Choice in need of accommodation.

An Empty Homes drop-in surgery is held at the 1st Stop in New George Street on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am to 12pm.