A new scheme designed to reward landlords for helping to increase the stock of private rented accommodation in Essex, has been launched.

Rochford District Council is offering landlords cash payments of up to £5,000 to accommodate homeless families because of a shortage of social housing.

The council is making the funds available to landlords with long-term empty properties that could be brought back into use in order to help meet the local housing need.

The new scheme replaces an old initiative, introduced two years ago, in which the council offered landlords a £1,000 incentive to restore empty homes.

There are more than 700 people on the waiting list for a property in Rochford, including hundreds of families in need of permanent accommodation.

Aside from boosting the supply of homes, the council hopes the scheme will also help to improve neighbourhoods throughout the district.

Aside from boosting the supply of homes, the council hopes the scheme will also help to improve neighbourhoods throughout the district.

Cllr Mike Webb of Rochford District Council, said: “Not only are empty homes a loss of valuable housing, but they can impact on our local communities by attracting flytipping and anti-social behaviour and bringing down property prices.

“The benefits of bringing empty properties back into use are two-fold; firstly it can help us to meet our local housing supply needs.

“And secondly it helps improve the overall appearance of the district.

“It can really make a difference to the way we feel about our town or village, when we see that all the houses on our street are in a good state of repair.”

Anyone interested in the scheme should contact emptyhomes@rochford.gov.uk.

It comes on the back of the government announcement in the last budget of a Private Rented Sector (PRS) Access Fund to help establish or expand similar council schemes to guide homeless and vulnerable tenants into sustainable tenancies in the private rented sector.