Does anyone offer grants? If so, how do you allocate them? Is it done on a fist come-first-serve basis or do you have some form of point scoring matrix? How much do you offer?  What's the eligibility criteria?

We're working on a new loan/grant policy whereby the remaining 25% of the loan is non-cyclable / written off providing the owner complies with the terms of the agreement.

We're unsure whether grants should be for letting, selling or owner occ or just letting. Or whether it should be limited to those with social outputs i.e. let at afforable rent, renovated by charities etc.

Any thoughts/experience/advice would be gratefully received.
Dan Thorning, Plymouth City Council / 01752 307578


grants, loans, funding


In my previous authority we had a scoring matrix specifically so we could prioritise applications that met our strategic priorities. Those entering into a 5 year nomination agreement scored highest on this factor followed by letting or first-time buyer owner occupation; followed by owner occupation for those with a home already.

It worked well when we announced the grants programme and had a glut of applications, as well as showing we were interested in helping all owners of empty properties, not just the rental sector.

Hope that helps

Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Derby City Council

Hi Dan,

For what it's worth, this is what we offered at our council in South Lakeland. We offered a maximum £20k grant (including VAT if property under 2yrs empty) for repairs in exchange for a 5-year grant condition of letting the property via Choice-based Lettings, at a social rent. The owner received regular rental income less deductions like a 10% management fee and other costs. This suited the owner who took up our offer, as it was the home he grew up in and he didn't want to sell it but couldn't afford to repair it either. A lovely family have been living there for over a year now, in a beautifully repaired home. However that was the only take up we had of the grant at that time. This  was partly because we were only looking at empty properties in areas of highest housing need and not rural areas where we had lots of interest from owners, but where there would not have been enough potential tenants for the 5-year grant condition. On looking into why there wasn't more 'take up' of the grant offer, we sent out surveys to a sample number of owners in those areas. Some wanted to match-fund the grant because their repairs costs exceeded the £20k max grant and others felt the 5-year 'tie-in' was too long and their circumstances could change during that time.  On reviewing the grant, it was felt that more flexibility could have led to increased interest. We are currently looking into this and of course it will depend on our budget for next year too.  At least that might help you when you set something up yourself. By the way, we have tried loans before in this area and had no interest whatsoever.  Different areas have different needs - I know loans work very well in other areas.  Good Luck Dan, whichever route your council decides to follow.

Lynne Leach, Empty Homes Officer, South Lakeland District Council


Lynne Leach

Hi Dan,  At Newcastle Council if a property has been empty over 6 months we offer £2,000 empty homes grants to cover major repairs in the property and the Landlord or Owner/Occupier can also apply for interest free loans upto £15,000 again to cover major repairs ie roof. Properties empty over 5 years we offer £5,000 grant and over 10 years £10,000 and again they can apply for the interest free loan upto £15,000.  Criteria for the grant is that the property remains occupied for upto 3 years or we will clawback the grant after that time they can do as they wish with the property.  The loan they can take over a period of upto 7 years.  I specifically target empty properties via our council tax reports, walkabouts, estate agent websites and people do contact me direct.  I will send you an email with all our documentation.  Feel free to give me a call / email.



Frances Shieber

Hi Dan

Here in Durham County Council, we offer a £5000 move in grant to anyone buying a long term empty property (over 6 months) that they intend to live in themselves for a minimum period of 5 years. The property must fall into a Council tax Band A or Band B in order to qualify, and we secure the grant as a local land charge on the property. If the owner moves out within the 5 year period then the whole grant amount is repayable. 

We also offer interest free loans of up to £15000 to owner occupiers and landlords to assist with refurbishment costs of long term empty properties.

Our grant and loan programme originated from the empty homes cluster programme and we have been able to continue the offer through recycled income.

If you would like any more information, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Thanks all. All very interesting approaches.

Sue - good point re being seen to help all owners.

Lynne - our old loan policy also had poor uptake, hence we're looking to introduce 25% of the loan amount as grant as a sweetener. We're not looking to make nomination rights a prerequisite of the loan to further max appeal.

Frances - thanks for sending those docs through. I'll read this morning. We're looking to offer loans of upto £50k with 25% as grant, therefore not too dissimilar to your max grant rate of £10k. We were going to have a flat-rate of 25% but I think perhaps having different rates for different lengths of time empty may be the way forward.

Claire - very interesting policy. I suspect you have a condition to claw back the grant if they were to leave their other property (the one they're moving out of) empty?



Hi Dan,

Stratford District Council offer grants...£20000 per unit

Property needs to be located in an area of housing demand!

Grant is non-repayable if no breach of Agreement.

Legal charge placed on property for 5 years

We ask for 5 years nomination rights on completion of works and advertise it on our Homechoice Plus website-rent set at affordable rents level

Currently have one underway for £40k.;..2 x 2 bed flats

Happy to discuss further if you need to...



Sheree Johansen

Project Officer (Empty Properties)