Modern homes rise out of the dust

16 February 2021

A derelict warehouse has transformed into state-of-the-art homes for Brent residents with the help of a grant from the council’s empty property team.

Narayan Mews in Willesden now boasts 13 new houses with top quality facilities and furnishings, which will soon be home to local people who otherwise would be homeless and seeking temporary accommodation. All the properties have underfloor heating and feature modern conveniences such as dishwashers and microwaves.

The landlord of the 13 properties said he was persuaded to accept a grant from Brent in view of all the benefits.

“I had an emotional investment in these properties,” he said. “I wanted quality tenants; people who would respect the property and treat each house as their own.

“Brent convinced me that their tenants do treat properties well and tend to remain for a longer duration. If I went private, I might have received more rent overall. But if you factor in the possible higher turnover of tenants, then I would have accrued some loss.”

Jacqueline Connerky, Empty Properties Officer, said: “I kept in regular contact with the landlord over four years, which has bought us to this point of successful completion. I arranged meetings with our partnering Housing Associations because it was important that the project stacked up financially for the landlord. Our excellent rents and management service eventually convinced him to accept our empty property grant.”

One house has also been adapted to accommodate a tenant with a hearing impairment. The council also financed the installation of a video entry system, a personal alarm, a fire alarm with a vibrating alert and a flashing light doorbell to enable the tenant to be safe in their home and live independently.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: “Every empty home in our borough means one fewer family has a home to call their own. A safe home is the foundation for physical, mental and financial well-being. Property owners are usually keen to avoid their houses standing empty – not least because they pay higher council tax – and this is a great example of how the assistance available can make a difference.”

Call to action:

If you have an empty property and want to apply for a grant, or need help and advice to bring it back into use, email the Empty Property team at empty.property@brent.gov.uk or call 020 8937 2384  (option 1, then option 4).