Empty Homes Week
2 March 2022
This week (28 Feb to 6 March) is National Empty Homes Week.
Statistics from Action On Empty Homes show the number of long-term empty homes in the South Hams and West Devon is very low compared to the South West and national averages. Only 0.32% of properties in the South Hams and West Devon are currently empty long-term compared to 0.76% in the South West region and 1% nationally.
While this is good news, bringing these current empty properties back into use could help ease the current housing crisis. As a result, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council are highlighting what you can do if you're aware of a long-term empty home in your community and what help is available to owners.
Cllr Judy Pearce, South Hams District Council Executive Member for Housing and Cllr Barry Ratcliffe, West Devon Borough Council Lead Member for Housing said: "We're looking into every opportunity to ease the current housing crisis we're experiencing. This means ensuring we're making the best use of every property in the area - including seeing what can be done to fill long-term empty homes.
"If you own a property that is currently standing long-term empty, there are a number of ways we could help you bring this property back into use. For example, our SeaMoor Lettings service at www.seamoorhomes.co.uk can help you find suitable tenants. With a very low 6% +VAT monthly management fee and other support with things like safety certificates, we can work together and make a positive difference to local people struggling to find an affordable home to rent. We can also see what other help you might need to make a home available again - so please do get in touch.
"While the numbers of empty homes in our area are gratifyingly low, local residents can help us make this even lower. Let us know of any properties in your communities that are empty by reporting long-term empty homes on our website."
Loans are also available for empty property owners who want to carry out work to enable them to bring a property back into use.
Working in partnership with Lendology CIC, a social enterprise lender providing finance packages to a wide range of homeowners, the council have invested funds to be lent via this unique loan scheme.
Over the last 15 years, Lendology have lent over £17 million to homeowners across the South West. This money has been used for home repairs, improvements, energy efficiency or renewable energy measures, and bringing empty properties back into use. Over £10 million has been repaid, which is returned to each local council's funding pot to be re-lent again, creating a recycling funding pot.
With empty properties, Lendology recognise that many people will need to complete the project before being able to make monthly repayments. Their deferred loan option of between 6 months to 2 years gives owners the space to rent, sell or move into the property before monthly repayments commence.
If you're aware of a long-term empty property in your community, please report it online.
The council will take enforcement action if an empty property is causing a direct significant problem to neighbours.