Empty Homes programme is currently suspended until further notice.
For further details contact either Ged Sutcliffe gerards@chapter1.org.uk or Gill Francis gillf@chapter1.org.uk

Questions and Answers

What is an Empty Homes scheme?

Part of a national initiative to create affordable rented accommodation by utilising privately-owned properties which have been standing empty for more than two years.

How are the schemes funded?

Government grants are made available through the HCA (Homes & Communities Agency) to cover the cost of renovating the properties. Partnerships which bring together local authorities, registered social landlords and organisations which can carry out the structural improvements can bid for this funding. The size of the grant is based on an average of £15K per property.

Where are the Chapter 1 Empty Homes schemes?

In March 2012 Chapter 1 was awarded £1.54M to run schemes in Cornwall, Gloucester and Torbay. As these schemes all have their own unique characteristics, we produce separate factsheets for each of them.

How are the Chapter 1 schemes structured and funded?

For the schemes for which Chapter 1 is the lead partner (Cornwall, Torbay and Gloucester) we fund 50% of the cost with 50% coming from the HCA funds, thereby maximising the grants. We work in partnership with the local authority, and the organisations which deliver the refurbishment and on-going maintenance. Chapter 1 leases the property for five years from the landlord, but retains the full rent until the cost of the refurbishment is repaid. At the end of five years the landlord gets back a property which is in good order, and suitable to let or sell.

How are the properties identified?

Local authorities have records of properties which have not been lived in for at least two years, and can trace their registered owners. There is no risk of holiday homes, which are furnished, being scooped up into the scheme by mistake.

What happens if landlords refuse to participate?

As a last resort, local authorities can acquire the properties by compulsory purchase, or if a building is in a dangerous condition, can have it demolished.

What are the benefits for the landlords?

The reason many homes remain empty is because the owners do not have the funds to bring them up to standard. Through this scheme the funds are provided by the HCA grant and Chapter 1 to complete the works necessary, and the landlord pays the money back by leasing their property to Chapter 1 for five years. Instead of the landlord receiving the rent, it is used to pay back the monies used for the refurbishment. This also means that the grant money is recyclable and can be used to refurbish another property. The landlords' properties will be renovated and then let without their needing to get involved. Five years later they will be returned in an improved condition.

How are tenants identified for the Chapter 1 schemes?

Properties are let through Chapter 1's established private sector leasing schemes (PSLs).

Potential tenants are referred by local authorities, other agencies and some are self-referrals. They are all assessed and properties identified to suit their needs. If we do not have suitable properties available, we run a waiting list.

What is Chapter 1?

Chapter 1 provides accommodation and related support services to help vulnerable people enjoy a more fulfilled life. It is a charity, based on Christian principles, which offers human compassion and practical support to meet people’s needs respecting their faith, culture and social background. Currently Chapter 1 works in partnership with over 35 local and administrative authorities and has a growing network of some 50 projects across England.

Cornwall - Empty Homes

Gloucester - Empty Homes

Torbay - Empty Homes


Who do I contact if I want to know more?
For Media Enquiries – Barbara Smith: 01736 786421/07801 947897
For For General Enquiries about Chapter 1 - Gina Grenville: 0207 593 0471