Derelict and empty homes
Given the locally high price of property, the number of empty homes within the council area is relatively small. However, given the local shortage of affordable housing and the number of people on the council’s housing register the council is keen, wherever possible, to see all properties used. In addition, empty homes can quickly deteriorate and fall into disrepair, becoming unsightly and leading to big repair bills.
The council has a number of measures in place to discourage properties from being left vacant for long periods and to encourage empty homes to be brought back into use.
Council tax policy
The council’s policy on council tax has recently been amended and a 50% premium is applied to properties that have been empty for more than two years (unless a statutory exemption applies). For more information please visit our Council Tax pages.
The council has no duty to take action regarding empty homes, however the Environmental Protection Team do attempt to contact property owners and encourage the properties to be brought back into use by drawing attention to the schemes mentioned below.
We no longer release or publish details of empty homes and this information is not available under the Freedom of Information Act. A detailed explanation of why can be found on our Freedom of Information (FOI) page.
Empty home loan
This scheme allows property owners to borrow money to bring the empty home back up to a suitable standard with a 5 year flexible loan. The loan can be paid back with regular monthly payments, occasional payments or a lump sum at the end of the 5 year period when the loan, plus any outstanding interest must be re-paid in full. The current interest rate is 5% this includes a small administration charge. The ceiling for the interest rate is 7.5%.
Flexible home improvement loan for affordable housing
This loan is to cover the costs of bringing properties up to a suitable standard for renting. Repayments are calculated over a 7 year period, though alternative terms are available. The interest rate is variable and is currently 3.5% with a ceiling of 7%. A Housing Association arranges all necessary works, find tenants and manage the property. Any surplus net rent goes to the property owner. At the end of the agreed term the property is then returned to the owner in good order, subject to fair wear and tear.
If you would like to notify the Environmental Protection Team of an empty property or have any queries regarding the information on this page, please get in touch - contact details are to the right of this page.
VAT - Empty homes
Many kinds of work that builders and similar trades do are standard-rated for VAT. Certain types of work, including renovating or altering an empty house or flat can sometimes be charged at a reduced rate. For more information contact HM Revenue & Customs or click to visit the website.
Rent deposit guarantee scheme
If you are taking up an offer of an empty home loan to finance improvements to your empty property, or you would like the council to assist you finding a tenant, the rent deposit guarantee scheme can help.
The council's rent deposit guarantee scheme is dedicated to helping low income families to remain in their local area while securing good rental returns for private landlords. There are many benefits to the scheme, including a guarantee to cover loss or damage to the property (beyond fair wear and tear).
If you would like further information concerning the scheme and its benefits, please click here.
Unsecure empty properties
The council is responsible for ensuring all empty properties are secure and do not offer a risk to others' safety.
To report an unsecure building please use the details in the 'contact us' section of this page, or complete our online report form.
Last reviewed: 22 - 10 - 2015