New model to tackle empty homes and reduce ASB

We have partnered with Ad Hoc Property Management Ltd to transform more than 30 neglected homes in Sunderland in areas plagued with anti-social behaviour.

The collaboration utilises Ad Hoc’s unique model of placing working adults in empty properties to live under a Temporary License Agreement for the purpose of enhancing security, reducing ownership costs and uplifting communities. Ad Hoc’s licensees then have the opportunity to become Gentoo customers following a successful trial period.

In December 2021, we adopted the model on three long-standing vacant homes in Houghton-le-Spring, in an area plagued by anti-social behaviour and crime. Previous attempts to secure the properties with metal sheets had only intensified local issues.

Ad Hoc's intervention marked a turning point, as three carefully selected licensees moved into the properties, revitalising them and ensuring that essential services were functioning properly again. In exchange for their commitment to maintenance and prompt issue reporting, they benefitted from slightly reduced rents while adhering to strict conduct and environmental guidelines. Most importantly, they were willing to relocate should we have needed the properties to be returned.

Steven Gordon, Head of Neighbourhoods said: “Empty properties cost money and are a sad sight in our communities. This partnership has not only helped us to address long-term vacancies, but it has also resulted in a significant saving for Gentoo, as well as having a positive impact in our neighbourhoods. 

“Two of our main priorities are to provide great homes and help our communities to thrive and Ad Hoc’s model is helping us achieve them both.”

This initiative led to a notable improvement in the estate's reputation, with reductions in vacancy-related problems, tenancy terminations and anti-social behaviour reports. Ad Hoc's monthly inspections over a year ensured the homes were well-maintained, eventually leading to the licensees' seamless transition to valued Gentoo customers.

Nikki Murtaugh, Area Manager for Ad Hoc's North East branch, highlighted the dual benefits of this approach: meeting Gentoo's immediate needs while also establishing long-lasting community ties and valued tenancies.

We have now expanded the use of Ad Hoc's model to bring more than 30 challenging properties back into use, many of which have seen occupants become upstanding members of the community.

The partnership demonstrates a forward-thinking, mutually beneficial approach for the property owner, the community and the licensees in addressing housing challenges, while demonstrating the power of collaboration in transforming communities and creating sustainable tenancies in previously empty homes.

The success of the partnership was recently Highly Commended in the Best Partnership category at the Empty Homes Network Awards and shortlisted for Northern Housing Partnership of the Year at the Northern Housing Awards.

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