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Council has EPIC plans to return empty properties to use

With the demand for affordable homes high on the national agenda it can be frustrating to see otherwise habitable properties being left empty - and here in the Moorlands the local council has plans to tackle this issue thanks to a £1 million partnership with housing association EPIC.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council launched its strategy for tackling empty properties earlier this year and has now announced it is joining forces with EPIC (Empowering People Inspiring Communities) to turnaround properties that have been empty for six months or more using funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Under the North Staffordshire Rent to Buy Scheme, EPIC will buy and repair empty Moorlands properties and make them available for affordable rents for five years during which the occupants can save a deposit with the view to buying their home.

Announcing the news, Councillor Mike Bowen, cabinet member for housing, said: "Leaving properties empty when, with a little care and attention, they could be returned to use as homes makes no sense when we know there is a need for affordable accommodation in the Moorlands.

"That's why we're delighted to announce this partnership with EPIC - it's a key step forward in delivering our aims working in partnership with a housing association with a strong track record of delivery in North Staffordshire.

"Being able to afford a home of our own is a dream many of us have and schemes such as this make that dream more achievable. If we're also able to reduce the number of long-term empty properties in the district and increase the homes available at affordable rent at the same that can only be good news!"

The scheme will focus on tackling empty properties in Biddulph East, Cheadle North East, Leek North and Leek East initially where figures show that 155 properties are empty - and 57 of these have been unoccupied for over two years.

Properties requiring no more than £100,000 - £125,000 overall investment can be considered. Empty property owners can find further information on EPIC's website.

In certain circumstances some empty properties can be exempt from paying council tax. If you own an empty property and you're currently paying council tax on it check online to see if you're eligible for a discount - and you can also let us know if someone has moved in.