Dundee City Council to buy mortgages in bid to tackle homelessness



Jimmy Black
Jimmy Black

Dundee City Council has given its unanimous approval for a new scheme that will see the council buy homes from tenants in financial difficulty.

The Scottish Government’s Home Owner Support Fund allows owners with money woes to sell their property to the council and become rent paying tenants.

Under the scheme the Scottish Government will pay a maximum subsidy of 60 per cent of the purchase price for the property set by open market valuation, with the council meeting the rest.

Local authorities can also claim up to £8,500 towards any repairs and checks that might be needed to bring the accommodation up to Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

Any decision on whether to buy a property then lies with the council, who will make an allowance of £900 per property to cover administration costs.

A report discussed by the council’s housing committee estimates that up to 10 requests a year could be made.

Recommending the city’s participation in the scheme, Dundee’s director of housing, Elaine Zwirlein, said: “The council would benefit from adding to its social rented housing stock buying properties at considerably less than market value or new-build cost.”

Dundee’s former housing convener said the scheme could boost the council’s housing stock and “help prevent homelessness”.

Councillor Jimmy Black said: “This is a really useful policy which could well avoid a tremendous amount of expulsion for people who are up against it and can’t afford to pay their mortgages anymore.

“I think if people know about this we will get more than 10 requests coming in per year.

“The council can also invest in housing that has not been maintained in the way council housing is.”

The criteria for a property to qualify would include it being located in an area of significant need and demand for social rented housing and property size and type with family homes, wheelchair adapted housing and one bedroom flats taking priority.

Current housing convener, Councillor John Alexander, said there will be strict criteria under which the council can help.

He said: “One of the conditions will be that we offer support through our welfare rights team to maximise the homeowner’s income and avoid a situation where they won’t be able to pay their rent to the council in future.”

@DundeeCouncil

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