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Empty residential properties

Vacant dwellings can often have a seriously detrimental effect upon the condition and value of adjoining properties and on the local community. Usually, the longer dwellings 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 problems:

  • Property deterioration and on-going maintenance costs.
  • Expensive insurance.
  • Loss of income from either renting out or selling the property
  • The owner may be liable for costs incurred by the council in removing rubbish and preventing unlawful entry
  • A change in the law means that properties that have been empty for more than 2 years will be liable to a premium of 50% of the fill council tax liability fro 1st April 2013.

It is estimated that leaving a home empty can cost in the region of £7,000 per annum, just in terms of insurance, maintenance, council tax and the loss of potential income.

What can I do to bring my empty home back into use?

There are a number of ways to bring your empty home back into use as follows:

  • Sell It: The property market has improved over the last 12 months. As a result it may be an opportune time to try and sell your property and realise the value. An empty property can be attractive for many buyers as there maybe no upward chain.
  • Rent It Out: There has been an immense increase in demand from people wanting to rent property in recent years.
  • Renovate It: You may need to refurbish or repair the property before you can sell it or rent it out. There's a reduced VAT rate for the cost of renovating an empty property that's been empty for two years or more. You can pay just 5% instead of 20%. (See http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/). If you can't afford the work, or it's difficult to organise (for example, because you live a long way away), think about selling to a builder or developer at a lower price.

What will happen 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.

Empty Homes cause problems as they are targets for criminal damage and become sites for fly-tipping and anti social behaviour. They also represent a wasted housing resource devaluing and damaging neighbouring properties. Having an empty home that is in a deteriorating condition adjoining your home could result in damage to your property. For example, empty homes are not heated and are therefore cold properties - this could result in dampness along the party wall.

There are a number of reasons why homes are left empty and these include - individual, regional and national for example.

  • National. Could result in households being trapped in negative equity or unable to manage mortgage debt. As a result the lender is unable to dispose of the asset.
  • Regional. An area may have low demand or an over supply of certain properties.
  • Individual factors could include an owner becoming bankrupt or after the death of a relative, waiting for probate to be granted.

List of empty properties

We are often asked if we can provide members of the public with lists of empty properties or the contact details for owners to help them identify properties to purchase.

It has been established by the Information Commisioner that such information is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and therefore subject to data protection restrictions. Although we will not be able to provide you with lists of properties or contact details you may be able to obtain information yourself through the following means:

  • Searching for individual properties on the Land Registry Website (small fee applies). In most cases this will reveal the names of the owner and in a few cases, an alternative contact address. If there is no alternative contact address with their name you might be able to trace them using directory enquiries online service
  • Posting a note through the door of the empty property explaining what your interest is and asking them to contact you to discuss it
  • Contact the team: we may have contact details for the owner of the property you are interested in and may be able to notify them of your interest