Empty properties can contribute towards the degeneration of an area and undermine community spirit. They can also become the focus of anti-social behaviour, fly tipping and rodent activity.
Returning an empty property to use can not only resolve these environmental and social problems, but can also provide a ‘new’ home, which helps meeting housing demand, reduces pressure on new build development and can also provide an income and asset for the owner.
We want to encourage landlords to bring empty properties back into use as homes. We recognise that properties are often empty for a wide variety of reasons and our role is therefore to initially influence and encourage property owners. This can include advice about undertaking repairs, selling the property or renting it. However we may also take appropriate enforcement action where these informal negotiations fail.
The cost of keeping a property empty
The condition of an empty property can deteriorate rapidly, costing more to insure and eventually repair, especially if it’s subject to vandalism. An empty home is also a wasted asset that could be providing a home or an income via rent. It has been estimated that keeping a property empty could cost the owner as much as £135 a week or just over £7,000 every year.
If a property is left empty for over two years, the owner will be charged a premium rate of Council Tax at a rate of 200%. As an illustration the owner of an empty property in ‘Band D’ would see their Council Tax Bill rise from just under £2,000 to just under £4,000. These provisions are designed to encourage property owners to not leave property empty for long periods.
If a residential property has been empty for 2 years or more, the owner may be entitled to claim a reduced rate of VAT of 5% on works of renovation or alternation. Further information is available from the HMRC. If you wish to try and claim this reduced rate then you will need documented proof of the period of time the property has been empty. To assist we can check our records and if the property has been empty for 2 years, we can provide a letter confirming this. Contact us using the below details.
Empty property loans
Empty homes loans may also be available to owners of long term empty properties (those that have been empty for more than 6 months) to bring them back into use for affordable rented accommodation. The loans we currently have available are:
Where offers of help and assistance have failed to bring an empty property back into use, then the council has a range of discretionary enforcement powers available to it. These powers tend to be used as a last resort, where an empty property is causing a nuisance or causing other environmental issues within the local community. This enforcement action can range from Compulsory Purchase powers, to in certain circumstances legally ‘forcing’ the sale of the property. We may also effectively take over the management of the property under the Housing Act 2004 using an Empty Dwelling Management Order.