GWYNEDD Council has launched an adaptation to one of its housing schemes to offer the opportunity to bring more vacant properties back into use and into the hands of residents.

Properties previously used as second homes will now be eligible for a first-time buyer's grant to renovate empty houses, expanding the options available to help people take the first step on the property ladder.

The wider scheme to offer grants to renovate empty houses has been available in its current form since 2021.

This change comes in response to an increase in the number of applicants who cannot meet the criteria to receive the grant.


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Owners of former second homes were previously ineligible for the grant, despite the buildings previously being vacant.

To address this shortcoming, the council has decided to extend the scheme's criteria to include empty houses that were previously second homes.

Almost 10 per cent of all houses in Gwynedd are second homes, but in some areas in the county, the figure is significantly higher, such as Aberdyfi (43 per cent) and Trawsfynydd (42 per cent).

This, in turn, means that the options available to people to take the first step on the housing ladder are limited.

Cllr Craig ab Iago, cabinet member for housing and property, said: "While many people in Gwynedd can’t buy their first home, hundreds of houses in Gwynedd are in the hands of owners who already have another home.

“Very often, second homes are empty for long periods of the year, and many are in poor condition.

“Furthermore, 65.5 per cent of Gwynedd's population has been priced out of the housing market, and the number is as high as 96 per cent in areas with many holiday homes. 

“Adapting the grant eligibility to include former second homes makes perfect sense and is another way we can assist the residents of Gwynedd in taking the first step to buying a home locally.

"It is important to note that we are not talking about the usual stereotype of a holiday home worth millions here, but rather the terraced houses and cottages, which have been abandoned and forgotten and have fallen into disrepair over time.

"I would encourage anyone who owns a house that used to be an empty second home until they bought it, to look at the council's website for more details, or contact the council's Empty Home Grants team for a chat.”

 Sion Taylor, the first recipient of the updated grant, said: “The house I’ve bought used to be the home of a friend of mine and I remember playing here when I was younger.

“This house was sold some 15 years ago and became a holiday home. It was on sites such as Airbnb, which is a shame, because so many young, local people want to stay here and want a house.

“The grant means so much to me. I applied for it back when I bought the house and was turned down.

“I was pleased when the council got back in touch to say that the terms had changed.

“It will be a huge help for me to renovate this house and move in faster. Otherwise, it would’ve taken me years to do myself.

“If you are in the same situation as me, I would recommend applying for the grant; it’s worth having. Get in touch with the council to see what they can do for you.’’