There are just under 800 homes that have been empty for longer than six months in the area.
These empty homes represent a significant waste of valuable housing accommodation. This is especially pressing at a time of both affordable housing shortages and low rates of new housing completion.
Problems with empty homes
Vacant properties can often have a seriously bad effect on the condition and value of adjoining properties and on the local community. Usually, the longer they remain empty, the greater their disrepair and risk of vandalism.
An empty property can also cost the owner a significant amount of money due to the following:
- property deterioration and on-going maintenance costs
- expensive insurance
- loss of income from either renting out or selling the property
- Council Tax - if the property is empty for longer than two years, the owner will be charged 200 per cent Council Tax from 1 April 2019
- the owner may be liable for costs incurred by the council in removing rubbish and preventing unlawful entry
It is estimated that leaving a home empty can cost about £7,000 per year, just in terms of insurance, maintenance, council tax and the loss of potential income.
How to bring my empty home back into use
There are a number of ways you can bring your empty home back into use and a number of ways we can help you.
- You can sell it. An empty property can be attractive for many buyers as there may be no upward chain. We can help you by:
- signposting you to potential marketing services
- offering you general advice on selling your home
- advising you of developers or other potential purchasers interested in purchasing empty homes
- You can rent it out. There has been an immense increase in demand from people wanting to rent property in recent years. We can help you by:
- assisting you in identifying and choosing a letting agent
- offering you advice on becoming a landlord
- helping you find suitable tenants
- advising you on local housing allowances and tenancy deposit schemes
- You can renovate. You may need to refurbish or repair the property before you can sell it or rent it out. There is a reduced VAT rate for the cost of renovating a property that has been empty for two years or more. You can pay just five per cent instead of 20 per cent. Find out more on the Government website. If you cannot afford the work, or it is difficult to organise, for example, because you live a long way away, think about selling it to a builder or developer at a lower price. We can help you by:
- helping you identify funding options, including any grant assistance available
- offering you advice on renovating your property
We are also able to offer a wide range of general advice for owners to help you bring your empty home back into use, including:
- helping you decide the most appropriate use for your property
- offering you advice on the local housing market and demand for accommodation
- advising you of some of the legal issues that could affect your property and subsequently your decision
If my property remains empty
Although we have various statutory powers to deal with empty homes, we are keen to encourage owners to re-let or re-occupy them without the worry of enforcement action. However, in certain circumstances we may have to use enforcement action to ensure that empty homes are brought back into use.
For more information about bringing empty homes back into use, or if you wish to report an empty home, please contact us.