Hundreds of Croydon residents are set to get help into a home through the council’s new drive to refurbish empty properties.
The council wants to bring at least 662 privately-owned empty homes across the borough back into use by getting owners to do them up.
The council is keen to work with landlords and owners, who will be offered grants or loans to help refurbish the properties. Those who refuse face enforcement action.
With around 5,000 people on the borough’s housing waiting list, which does not include those in emergency accommodation, the initiative aims to tackle both a shortage of privately-rented family properties and the environmental impact of empty homes.
Abandoned properties can attract piles of fly-tipped waste, vermin and break-ins, and have a detrimental effect on those living close by. The initiative is designed to fit with the council’s Don’t Mess With Croydon – Take Pride environmental campaign.
“It’s an utter waste that hundreds of perfectly good properties in our borough lie empty, so we’re taking action to give more local families a home.
Empty houses are often rundown and blight neighbourhoods, so this drive underlines Croydon Council’s commitment to making the borough cleaner and greener.
And at a time when the Government is squeezing our finances, this initiative could also bring much-needed extra income from the New Homes Bonus for the borough’s frontline services.”
Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration
Landlords and owners who qualify for a grant must refurbish the empty property so it can be let to families on the borough’s housing waiting list. Loans must be paid back within two years.
There are many reasons why a property could remain empty and the council will work with owners to address these issues. However, if an owner refuses to co-operate, the council has the power to buy the empty property without their permission and then find a suitable buyer who must make it available for housing within an agreed timescale.
The council estimates that the number of empty flats or houses could be higher than the official 662, and is encouraging residents to report empty properties via the My Croydon app, which is quick and free to download from the Google Play store for Android smartphones or Apple iTunes store for iPhones. You can also report empty homes online at www.croydon.gov.uk or on the dedicated hotline: 020 8760 5470.