Information for property owners and residents about empty homes and the benefits of bringing them back into use
Homes that lay empty for a long time are a waste of a scarce resource. With record demands for housing and growing social housing waiting lists, more use must be made of the existing housing stock. Evidence shows that when empty homes are left unmanaged and unmaintained they become subject to vandalism, social issues and degradation. This also negatively impacts on residents and communities.
We have employed a dedicated Empty Homes Officer to help bring long term properties back into use. To do this they will work closely with owners, landlords, their representatives and the local community. Their aim is to identify and utilise existing housing, reducing the impact of empty homes on neighbouring residents and highlighting the benefits of reuse to vacant property owners.
If you own an empty property and want some advice, please contact Lorraine Moore on 07729638832 or email email@example.com.
If you have received a letter from us
To support the Government's initiative to tackle the national housing shortfall, we contact all owners of empty properties annually. It is important you provide accurate information regarding the status of the property, confirming whether it is occupied or empty even though you are paying the council tax.
If the status of your property has changed, please contact Lorraine Moore on 07729638832 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report an empty property
Please tell us if you are being affected by an empty property in your area. This will allow our Empty Homes Officer to look into the situation.
Help for Fenland homeowners
Our Empty Homes service offers Fenland homeowners information, advice and support to bring their empty properties back into use. If you own an empty property or have recently purchased one, we can:
- give you a free property assessment
- informally discuss your options
- help you with applications, approvals, lettings and sale processes
You also have the option to:
- take your property to a private rental agency. The National Landlords Association provides useful advice on finding and using a letting agent
- refurbish your property. Sometimes there are tax breaks available for refurbishing empty properties. You may also be able to reduce or recover VAT. More information can be found on the HMRC website
Properties empty for two or more years
The empty status of a property moves with the property. If you purchase a property or inherit one and do not move in straight away and the property has been empty for two or more years you will be liable for an increase in your Council Tax payments. See the information below for more details (Council Tax charges for empty properties).
If you decide to refurbish a property that has been empty for two or more years, the Empty Homes Officer can provide you with a VAT letter which your builder can use to offer you reduced VAT.
Suspension of the premium Council Tax charge
To support owners who have recently purchased a property which has been empty for two or more years, the Council is offering a suspension of the premium Council Tax charge.
- You must apply for the suspension within six months of purchasing the property, with the intention of renovating to sell, rent or inhabit the property
- You must complete the project within six months
- As the owner you will still be expected to pay the standard rate of Council Tax during the renovation
- If you do not complete within the six month timeframe, the premium charge will be reinstated and backdated to the date the property was purchased
- If, on assessment, very good progress is made but not completed at six months, at the Council's discretion and in exceptional circumstances a further extension may be granted
Please contact Lorraine Moore on email@example.com or 07729638832 for further details and to request an application form.
Council Tax charges for empty properties
We have amended Council Tax discounts to certain types of properties. This is in accordance with Section 11 (as amended) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
From April 2013:
- Holiday homes - 0% discount
- Second homes - 0% discount
- (i) Unoccupied and unfurnished properties - 0% discount
- (ii) Properties requiring or undergoing major structural work - 0% discount
Although no discount applies, your property may be eligible to be removed from council tax if it is derelict or in significant disrepair. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) are the only government agency that can remove a property from council tax. If you believe your property is derelict or in significant disrepair, please visit the VOA website for more information.
To discuss this further and arrange a visit to assess the property and guide you through the application process please contact Lorraine Moore on 07729638832 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For classes of property (i) and (ii) above:
- If a property remains empty and unfurnished for more than two years, then an extra 100% will be payable
- From 1 April 2020 if your property has been empty and unfurnished for more than five years, then an extra 200% will be payable (meaning a 300% charge)
- From 1 April 2021 if your property has been empty and unfurnished for more than ten years, then an extra 300% will be payable (meaning a 400% charge)
- The premium will not apply if:
- it would be the sole residence of someone who is currently living in accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence
- it is an annex being used as part of the main residence
For more information, please email email@example.com or call 01354 654321.
Benefits of reusing empty properties
Reusing empty and derelict properties can:
- greatly improve an area's appearance - boosting people's pride and confidence where they live
- provide a warm, safe haven for a local family
- reduce the health hazards relating to empty homes
- reduce the opportunity for crimes against the property and person
- attract inward investment, helping the area to be an attractive place to live and work
- reduce the need to build new homes on green field sites
Owners who leave properties empty
Enforcement measures are used as a last resort. This may be when:
- a home has been abandoned; or
- the owner can't be traced; or
- we can't agree a voluntary solution with the owner
In cases of extreme dereliction, urban blight or structural instability, we must act to protect the health and safety of our residents. We are able to:
- serve a Compulsory Purchase Order on the property
- serve Improvement Notices. This is to make the owner bring their property up to the current housing standards
- apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order. This enables us to take over the management of the property for up to 7 years, carry out remedial works and use the property to reduce housing need within the area
- enforce the sale of a property
- serve a Demolition Order. This is when the property deems repair to be disproportionate