An innovative pilot project has brought a property that stood empty for 10 years back into use as a family home for a mum and her two children in Huyton.
The house on Hilary Avenue was bought by Knowsley Council using an Empty Homes Management Order – the first time the power has been used by an authority in the Liverpool City region.
Louise, 38, said: “It is fantastic – newly refurbished, in a great location and much more economical to run than where I was living before which only had mains electricity. It came along just at the right time for me. I’m really happy – it’s a lovely place to live.”
The three bedroom, semi detached property had been attracting vandalism and anti-social behaviour, but has been renovated and leased to Knowsley Housing Trust, part of the First Ark Group.
Empty Homes Management Orders are designed to reduce the number of empty properties that can blight neighbourhoods by allowing councils to take control of private residential properties that have been left empty long-term.
“This is a great example of partnership working which supports our Empty Homes Strategy, providing assistance to home owners and prioritising those properties causing our communities concern. As we have done in this case, we use innovative approaches to bring homes back into use. This is part of our on-going commitment to develop new affordable housing in Knowsley.”
Knowsley Council carried out improvements to the property in February – installing a new roof and loft insulation, rewiring, fitting new windows, doors, bathrooms and flooring, upgrading the central heating, completing improvements to plasterwork, tiling and decorating and to the garden, front wall, gates and exterior of the property.
The rental income from the property will be used to pay the council’s costs.
Stephen Heverin from KHT said: “This important legislation allows us to make the best use of the properties in Knowsley and free up much-needed homes.
“KHT built 87 homes in 2010/2011 and has committed to building another 241 over the next four years, but demand will still outstrip supply and we must do all we can to continue providing homes.
“This has been a very successful project built on partnership working that has now turned an unused building back into a useful property.”
The project is the culmination of a long-term programme of work, which saw Knowsley Council engaging with the landlord of the property and taking enforcement action to get the work carried out.
The council also used a local firm to carry out the improvements, supporting the local economy and providing work for local tradesmen and suppliers.