Landlords with empty properties in Middlesbrough are being urged to sell up to a local housing group looking to source more social rented housing.
The scheme – an initiative between Middlesbrough Council and the Ethical Housing Company (EHC) – aims to tackle both the issue of poor living conditions and the high number of empty properties.
It is expected to get the go-ahead next month to start in Newport, North Ormesby and the town’s central ward.
Councillor Ashley Waters, executive member for regeneration, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that EHC would work hand-in-hand with the council.
He said: “We blame the landlords for empty properties. Look at the state areas get left in, and how the people who get put in these houses get no support.
“This is about being able to go in and get these homes to what we call a ‘social housing standard’. We’ll then be able to support people in the area with good housing and good rates to improve the area.”
EHC runs alongside the Ethical Lettings Agency, which lets and manages properties for private landlords. The community interest company has a portfolio of more than 60 properties in the Tees Valley area which it has bought from home owners and landlords, often off market.
Waters added: “If we’ve got £500,000 to spend and they can put in £500,000, then we can do double with the same amount of money.
“We’re not saying to landlords ‘we’re going to buy these properties off you’, or use compulsory purchase orders. What we’re saying is, where we can, we’re going to improve areas.”
EHC director Carla Keegans (pictured) tells LandlordZONE that properties in these areas – covered by selective licensing schemes – are empty largely due to over-supply and poor condition.
“She adds: “We are backed by long-term social investment with a social purpose to help meet housing need. This project is an example of us working with a local authority to help bring up standards in problem parts of the PRS in defined places as part of wider regeneration plans.”