Ramshackle properties brought back into use for those in need of homes

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More neglected properties have been given a new lease of life in South Tyneside.

Privately-owned houses which have fallen into disrepair have been seized by South Tyneside Council and renovated, so they can be brought back into use.

Last year, 11 properties in the St Paul’s area of Jarrow were given a facelift and are now all rented out to tenants.

The transformations were carried out using Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO).

Under the terms of the scheme, derelict homes are refurbished using Government and council funding and then rented out with the council acting as “landlord”.

Six more properties have been identified across the borough to be the subject of EDMOs.

Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council, said: “The properties we target have all been empty for more than two years and have often been the subject of complaints from neighbours.

“They’ve been left unoccupied, which has an effect on the appearance of an area as well as attracting antisocial behaviour, crime and vandalism. We transform them into affordable family homes which benefit the whole community.”

Ward councillors Ken Stephenson, Jim Perry and Moira Smith have also backed the ongoing work.

Coun Stephenson said: “Empty, neglected homes can really drag neighbourhoods down and this work makes a big difference. The cost of the renovations is all recovered from the rental income and ploughed back into other properties in need of refurbishment, so it is an ongoing process.”

Work on the houses includes new roofs, replacement of windows and doors and new kitchens and bathrooms.

They are also fitted with an efficient heating system, loft and wall insulation and low-energy light bulbs, ensuring they are extremely efficient and cost effective.

When the council identifies a property which is causing problems they can apply for an EDMO to take control of it for seven years, after which it can be returned to the owner, or the order can be extended.

Jimmy Robertson, chairman of St Paul’s Road area residents’ association, said: “I’ve liaised with the council about this issue for several years, so it’s great to see how the whole community is reaping the benefits of the work.

“Improving derelict properties makes it a much more desirable and secure place to live, as well as having a positive impact on house prices.”

Anyone who is the owner of an empty property and would like further information on EDMOs, or would like to report an unoccupied property, is invited to contact the council’s empty property team on 424 6557.

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