Affordable homes plan is unveiled

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INTEREST-FREE loans of up to £15,000 are to be made available to owners of empty properties in Edinburgh to help bring them back into use as affordable homes for rent.

The initiative, funded by £750,000 from the Scottish Government’s Empty Homes Loan Fund, is designed to help pay for refurbishment of properties which may have fallen into disrepair.

The scheme is being run by Link2Let, part of Link Housing Association, who are looking for property owners who have homes with one or two bedrooms and have been empty for at least six months.

Once renovations are complete, Link2Let will rent out the property for between five and seven years to help provide affordable homes for people who cannot afford to buy, or who are not a priority for council or housing association tenancies.

Earlier this year, the council agreed to increase council tax on homes which have been vacant for more than a year.

City council housing leader Cammy Day: “There is a desperate need for more affordable homes in the city and although Edinburgh has a relatively low number of empty homes, every one that is brought back into use is greatly needed. This new initiative provides a fantastic opportunity for home owners to act now and bring their empty properties back into use as affordable rented homes.”

Craig Sanderson, Link’s chief executive, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for property owners who do not have the disposable income to bring their properties up to a habitable standard, to increase the value of their property, to avoid the increase in council tax for registered empty homes and to make an additional income.”

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess gave her backing to the scheme, She said:“ Empty homes are a wasted resource and a blight on local communities. At a time when affordable housing is in high demand, bringing empty homes back into use is an innovative and cost-effective way to increase the supply of housing in Scotland. The Scottish Government is working to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes in Scotland over the lifetime of this parliament, and the Empty Homes Task Force can play a valuable role.”