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Manchester Case Study – Bringing empty properties back into use

Reports from early 2019 suggested that more than 19,000 homes in the Greater Manchester area were left unoccupied, meaning over £3bn of property value being underutilised.

Manchester Case Study – Bringing empty properties back into use

Manchester Case Study – Bringing empty properties back into use

Bringing down the number of unoccupied homes across the country is something the government is keen to address. New builds are a key part of making residential property available for Brits struggling to get on the housing ladder, but the refurbishment of existing housing is also a benefit. Besides, long-term unoccupied properties that fall into a poor state of repair can have a long-term effect on the value of surrounding properties in that area.

Research from University College London was included in the same report, and showed that in Manchester alone, 1,371 homes were standing empty, and 94 of those were been empty for more than 10 years.

The council is working with Mosscare St Vincent’s (MSV Housing Group) to acquire properties and undertake refurbishments. These will then be put up for sale and made available to first-time buyers and residents below the city’s average household income.

£2m was set aside for the project, with the aim of bringing up to 90 vacant properties back into use, and intended to target any privately owned empty home, not targetting any particular areas. It forms part of a commitment by the council to provide 6,400 more affordable homes in a 10-year period between 2015 and 2025. It’s already had success with council housing, reducing the number of unoccupied public sector houses by more than 50% since 2013. The figure is now practically zero, with empty properties usually from a period of transition between occupants.

Privately owned properties have posed a bigger challenge with very little impetus for the owners to do anything with them. One of the measures put into place early was an increase in taxes for owners of empty properties in the hope of incentivising the owners to either put their homes back into use, or sell them on to someone that needs a home.

The Future

The  partnership between the council and Mosscare St Vincent’s means empty homes can be purchased for repurposing, but there is more to be done.

Campaigners have argued that even if every empty house in the region was filled, it still wouldn’t solve the housing problem entirely, and more housing needs to be built in the future.

Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “This partnership will mean we can acquire the empty homes, bring them back into use and provide a real route on the housing ladder for first time buyers and people on lower incomes.

“Partnering with Moss Care St Vincent’s means we can start to deliver this type of home at scale, and helps us meet a key objective as part of our affordable homes strategy.”

Empty to Plenty

This is a a scheme that has been launched in Greater Manchester with the aim of tackling unoccupied housing in the area. It is the latest initiative hoping to tackle the figure of approximately 25,000 properties that have been unoccupied for six months or more in the area at the point of inception.

The Empty to Plenty campaign is delivered by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, and is working in tandem with local housing associations.  A £30 million investment has been made in the project so far.

It offers a range of options for owners of empty properties such as leasing and repairing, or selling run-down homes to local housing associations so that they can put them back into use. Lease and repair enables the current owner to retain overall ownership of the property, provided that theu fill the property for a minimum of six years. This guarantees tenants for the building, and provides a sustainable rental income.

Sale options means owners are receiving a fair market price for the building from a reputable buyer, and bypass estate agent fees that would come into effect with a private sale.

With both options, the housing association takes on the cost of renovation, bringing thousands of empty buildings back into full-time use, as well as improving the appeal and desireability of the area.

Councillor Kieran Quinn, executive leader at Tameside Council, said: “There are close to a 1,000 unoccupied homes in the borough and we are committed to supporting people who are concerned about being an empty property owner. “We know there are diverse reasons why homes remain empty. It could be that owners have inherited a property, or that they bought it as an investment and the current economic climate means they can’t afford to do it up for sale or rent it out.”

Arranging Insurance

Here at GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Limited, our expert members of staff pride themselves on helping individuals planning to leave their property empty for 30 days or more with unoccupied building insurance to meet their specific needs.

Often if you purchase a 12 month policy, there will be options available to change the cover to another use, such as owner occupied or let out, without you needing to cancel and make alternative arrangements.

Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 to discuss your requirements, or click “Get a Quote” to fill in our online form.

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