SOUTH Ribble Borough Council is offering owners of empty properties access to a £100,000 fund to help them bring the homes back into use.

To mark Empty Homes Week the council has launched the scheme working in partnership with Methodist Action (North West) Ltd.

The project will see £4,500 made available per bedroom in each empty property to help towards renovation costs to bring them up to the standard required to then rent out.

The Preston-based charity will help oversee the works and organise for tenants to move into the property. Income then generated from the first three years’ rent will be used to help repay the council – making this a self-funding scheme.

Councillor Cliff Hughes, South Ribble Borough Council’s Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Strategic Planning and Housing, said: “This project has been a huge success in recent years for Methodist Action, which has already brought 107 empty homes back in to use.

“Empty homes are a wasted resource at a time when there are people in urgent need of suitable accommodation. This fund will help enable empty properties in South Ribble to be brought back on to the market without costing taxpayers a penny.”

Landlords who sign up will be assisted along the way by Methodist Action, which will pay contractors’ invoices, arrange for tenants to move in, and collect rent.

Stephen Hetherington, CEO of Methodist Action, said: “For the homeowner, the programme provides a low-risk, low-cost option for bringing their empty property back into use.

“For the community, it helps reduce the effects of anti-social behaviour, vandalism and theft associated with empty properties. The owner will also avoid increased Council Tax and other unforeseen costs associated with an empty property.”

Anyone wanting more information can visit a drop-in session at the Civic Centre, in West Paddock, Leyland, on December 1 between 1pm and 5.30pm. Alternatively, they can contact the council by calling 01772 421491 or by emailing strategichousing@southribble.gov.uk

Please note, if refurbishment costs exceed £4,500 per bedroom, landlords must pay the extra.