By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
A South London council will hand owners of empty properties up to £40,000 each for refurbishment and make them suitable for homeless families.
Southwark council is giving out huge grants to homeowners to cover as much as 50 per cent of the costs of renovating derelict properties.
It will also lend property owners up to £70,000 to help them refurbish empty homes.
The local authority hopes to bring 50 empty properties back into use as homes in a year through the grants and loans – double its previous annual target of 25 homes.
The maximum grants available to owners of empty homes are currently £10,000.
The money is available to homeowners willing to rent their empty properties as council housing.
An additional £2 million will be set aside by the council to buy back long-term empty homes.
It is expected the money will allow the local authority to purchase two derelict properties over 12 months.
Councillor Darren Merill, cabinet member for a cleaner, safer borough, said the council was committed to stopping property owners from holding on to empty homes.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on March 8, he said: “It’s a clear message to those property owners that want to keep their properties empty that we will not stand for it and we will be doing what we can to bring their empty properties back into use as available homes for residents that need them in our borough.”
Council officer, Perry Singh, added: “Our focus will be on bringing in empty homes for homeless households. If we are giving a grant we would want that property to be leased to a homeless household.”
Three quarters of empty homes in Southwark are privately owned. The remaining properties are in the hands of the council.
A Freedom of Information request in February 2022 revealed over 1,000 homes owned by Southwark have been lying empty for over a year.
Southwark will set aside £400,000 between 2022 and 2023 for grants to refurbish empty homes – up from the £95,000 currently available.
The local authority will provide another £700,000 for loans to renovate derelict properties – a huge increase from the £62,000 presently at hand.
It will employ two members of staff at the cost of £90,000 per year to help it reduce the number of privately owned empty homes in the borough.
Pictured top: Southwark council offices (image: Google)
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