Applications open for ‘Homes for £1’

Housing boost

Liverpool City Council is inviting formal applications for an innovative scheme which is giving 20 local residents the opportunity to buy a house for just £1.

The city council announced in February that it was launching a pilot ‘Homes for £1’ scheme, as part of plans to breathe new life into vacant properties in Granby and Picton.

There has been an overwhelming response to the plans, with over 4,000 people registering an interest in acquiring one of the 20 properties. Now, the council is inviting these people to complete the full application form.

The form is also available on-line from the afternoon of Wednesday 24 April on the city council’s website. Local people who did not originally register an interest are still able to apply, by visiting www.liverpool.gov.uk/homesforapound and completing the form. The final deadline for responses is Tuesday 7 May 2013.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “I’ve made it a priority to bring 1,000 empty properties back into use in this city and to help as many local people as possible get onto the property ladder. This innovative scheme will support both these aims.

“There is a huge amount of demand for these £1 homes, but it’s important that people realise that everything we are doing is about building a sustainable future for our neighbourhoods. That’s why we are only looking for people who have a genuine commitment to bringing these properties back to life and turning them into a home they are proud to live in.”

The form sets out the criteria that people must meet in order to be eligible for one of the houses. Applicants must live or work in Liverpool, must be a first-time buyer and must be employed.

Applicants are asked to specify which area they are interested in – Webster Triangle, Granby, or Arnside Road – and provide details of any local connections they have with their chosen area.

Applicants must also agree to live in the property for a minimum of five years and not sub-let it within this time. They are also asked to specify how they intend to undertake and finance the refurbishment of the property.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “We know how important strong, thriving communities are to local people, and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to bring our empty homes back into use.

“Properties in these areas have lain empty for too long – but in tough economic times, we need to be creative and look at doing things differently. We’ve been really pleased with the public response to our homes for £1 scheme, and we’re optimistic that this will prove to be an effective way of unlocking investment in properties, providing people with a much-needed home and attracting people back into our neighbourhoods.”

Residents who are successful in obtaining a home will be expected to refurbish it to Decent Home Standard, which means it must be in a reasonable state of repair, be warm, weatherproof and have reasonably modern facilities.

The city council estimates the scale of works required on each property is likely to cost more than £35,000 and is currently exploring whether short-term financial assistance could be provided to people, where required.

Those successful in obtaining a property will sign up to a building license. The property will be surveyed and a works schedule provided, with refurbishment expected to be completed within 12 months.

On completion of the works, the property will inspected to ensure that the refurbishment has been carried out satisfactorily. The property freehold will then be transferred from the city council to the purchaser.

To formally apply for the ‘Homes for £1’ scheme, or for more information, residents should visit www.liverpool.gov.uk/homesforapound. Alternatively, residents can call 0151 233 3073.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 7 May 2013. The city council will assess all applications before making a decision on who will get the properties, and where they will be, in June.
• The Homes for £1 pilot scheme forms part of the wider plans to bring 179 homes back into use in the Granby and Picton areas of Liverpool.

• The scheme will see 20 homes sold for £1 in:

Granby, Four Streets in the Granby Renewal Area (City Centre South Zone): The area, in close proximity to the city centre, is dominated by a mix of large Victorian houses and pre-1919 terraces.
Webster Triangle East in the Picton Renewal Area (Wavertree Zone): Close to the city centre and Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the area features a majority of pre-1919 terraces.
Arnside Road in the Kensington Renewal Area (Wavertree Zone): The area, close to the city centre, Wavertree Technology Park, Liverpool University and Royal Liverpool Hospital, is again characterised by high density, pre-1919 terraces.

• It aims to help individuals and families to access home ownership and is not open to commercial organisations.

• The wider housing plans for the area also include the development of an ‘Own Place’ model, which will see the council transferring vacant properties to The Riverside Group, who will refurbish them and offer them for sale at 25% less than market value.