18th Jan, 2020

Community housing project's appeal for empty Droitwich homes

A COMMUNITY housing project has appealed to landlords who own empty dilapidated properties to get in touch so they can be brought back into use.

According to figures revealed by Roots’ Community Interest Company (CIC) there are 600,000 empty homes in England at any one time with half of those classed as being ‘long-term empty’.

Currently in the West Midlands there are 23,515, up 1,134 since 2018. Of those, 569 are in Wychavon which covers Droitwich.

Once a property owner or landlord contacts the CIC there are two options.

If the property is up for sale Roots can put them in touch with investors and house-builders it has partnerships with and they can be bought for the market value. The buyer will then refurbish the property so it can be used for those who need it.

If the property is available for rent, the owner or landlord would lease it rent-free for three to five years to Roots which then works with local councils to bring it back into use. The local authority becomes responsible for the running and rent collection.

The length of the lease depends on the condition of the property and how much work needs doing.

When it ends the owner gets the home back fully refurbished to a good standard.

Sandra Royle started Roots last year and has spent the last 12 months researching and contacting every single council in England.

All 600 are on board with the project because dilapidated properties often cause a headache for local authorities.

When they are left to rack and ruin they bring areas down, prompting complaints from neighbours and it is councils which are tasked with sorting out issues, sometimes having to compulsory purchase the homes.

Working with Roots will hopefully help councils resolve the situations more promptly.

Sandra said now all the preparation work had been completed the CIC was ready to begin operating.

“I set up a wholesale foodbank a few years back and collected food from supermarkets and cash and carries to help and support those who were struggling.

“It then got me thinking about the best thing I could do to help the homeless and I came up with putting roofs over their heads.

“When I started researching I was shocked to find how many long-term empty homes there were.

“Our main aim is to get as many of these properties brought back into use again as soon as possible so they can be there for people who need them.

“We are operating right across the country so we can keep people in the areas they want to be in.”

Sandra added long-term the scheme would also help the different rungs of the property ladder because as people moved up into bigger homes to suit their needs smaller ones would become available for others.

Figures released by Shelter last year showed there were 320,000 people classed as homeless in England alone.

Landlords or property owners wanting to find out more about Roots should call Sandra on 01253 728896 or 07823 505914.

Alternatively email sandra.royle@cisgroup.org.uk or visit www.roots-chs.org.uk for information or to fill out the online form.

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