Empty Property Programme
The empty property programme is delivered by 'A Place to Live' to address the dual issues of empty properties and affordable housing.
The programme is based on a simple ‘repair and lease’ model where all stages of the process from refurbishment to tenanting are co-ordinated by the charity as a ‘one stop shop’ process. As with the 'A Place to Live' approach, this programme is a partnership scheme between the local authority, the empty property owner and the charity, where all parties will benefit from the process.
Long-term empty properties are targeted by the 'Local Authority Empty Property Team' who contacts the owners of the property to introduce the programme.
Owners who are interested in the scheme are then put in touch with the charity, who can offer 'enabling’ financial contributions to the building work costs; co-ordination of the refurbishment process from building survey and tendering, through to refurbishment and project management; upon completion, the property being leased through a standard lease agreement with 'A Place to Live' as detailed previously.
The charity manages all the financial aspects of the scheme – from paying contractor’s invoices, to recouping the financial contribution to the scheme through the rental income in the first three years of the lease. The only requirement from the owner is to provide additional ‘gap’ funding to the refurbishment costs if they exceed the maximum contribution available to the charity.
The charity sustains the programme through a fixed contribution from the incoming monthly rent towards its running costs.
The team is structured to provide a cost effective solution to the process, and encourages partnership working as an essential ingredient. This enables a proactive, flexible and strategic approach to each property. Local Authority partners support the project and establish relationships with property owners, the local community, local businesses and local employers bringing valuable, additional opportunities to the programme.
For the home-owner, the programme provides a low-risk, low-cost option for bringing their property back into use. This means that they are no longer open to 150% Council tax and other unforeseen costs associated with an empty property. This also helps to reduce the effects of anti-social behaviour, vandalism and theft, which empty properties attract. Ultimately, they are contributing to the alleviation of homelessness and poor housing.
For the tenant, the charity is able to improve local environments and communities, providing those in housing need good quality, affordable accommodation.