CARLISLE councillors will today consider proposals intended to bring more empty houses across the district back into use.

The discussion will feed into next month’s executive decision on whether to introduce grants of up to £3,000 to help homeowners make their properties habitable again.

The scheme would be looking to target those whose homes have stood empty for more than two years will be looked at in detail by the authority’s Economic Growth Scrutiny Panel.

Under the plans, the cash would be offered on a “first come first served basis”, with eligibility judged “case by case”.

The cash offer would be conditional on assurances that the home was indeed brought back into use, with the owner expected to make up any shortfall needed to achieve this.

Owners would also be required to complete works within six months of the grant being approved, with the home live in again another six months after the cash is received.

The scheme would see all grants recovered at the point of sale, assuming the home was re-sold within five years of being occupied.

Other funding options considered include ‘works in default’ which would see the council take over a long-term empty home, carry out the necessary works and then attempting to recover the cost by selling it on.

However, this “time intensive” method is already available to the council through its ‘Enforced Sale Policy’, though the authority prefers to work with cooperation of the owners.

A two-year interest free loan is another possibility on the table, but housing chiefs have described this approach as “high risk”, and with little uptake in previous years.

A managed repair service involves the council paying directly for the repairs to homes, recovering the cost through rental agreements has also been mooted.

But housing chiefs are concerned that this would also come with “legal and financial risks” and would require greater resources from the council.