Posts with tag: unoccupied property

Landlords Offered Cash Incentives to Bring Empty Properties Back into Use

Published On: June 3, 2016 at 10:35 am


Categories: Landlord News

Tags: ,,,

Landlords and homeowners across the Deepings and Bourne districts of Lincolnshire are being offered cash incentives of up to £5,000 to help bring empty properties back into use.

As part of a nationwide effort to help boost the supply of rental homes to cater for growing demand from tenants, South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) is offering the payments, which are part of the Government’s £4.8 billion Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, to help landlords and building owners re-let properties that have been classed as long-term unoccupied.

SKDC’s Business Manager for Environmental Health, Anne Marie Coulthard, says: “It can be challenging for some owners of homes that have not been maintained over a number of years to bring them back into habitable condition.

“Therefore, the Government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme is a channel to help improve the condition and value of the property and, in some cases, allows landlords to let the property in order to generate an income.”1 

To qualify for funding from the scheme, the property must have been vacant for at least six months and owners must agree to charge rent below the Local Housing Allowance weekly rates of between £58.38-£153.02 for a minimum period of three years. Additionally, the property must be brought back into use within 12 months of work starting.

Landlords Offered Cash Incentives to Bring Empty Properties Back into Use

Landlords Offered Cash Incentives to Bring Empty Properties Back into Use

New research by property crowdfunding platform Property Partner estimates that England has over 203,000 long-term empty homes with a value of over £38 billion.

In London alone, 20,915 homes were empty for more than six months in 2015 – around £12.4 billion worth of empty property, despite a chronic housing shortage in the capital.

The London borough with the highest number of empty properties is Newham, where 1,318 homes were vacant for over six months in 2015. However, the greatest value of empty stock is in Kensington and Chelsea, where £1.7 billion worth of property is unoccupied.

Outside of London, Bradford has the highest number of empty homes, after recording an increase of 7% over the last decade to a total of 4,154 with an estimated value of around £400m.

Meanwhile, Manchester has seen the number of empty homes fall by over 84% in the last ten years, from 10,059 in 2005 to 1,599 in 2015.

West Yorkshire, including Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, has the greatest number of vacant homes than any other English metropolitan district, at 12,292.

The CEO of Property Partner, Dan Gandesha, comments: “These figures reveal a shocking waste of opportunity. Over a decade ago, the law changed, giving councils the power to seize empty homes through Compulsory Purchase Orders and rent them back out to tenants if they lay vacant for more than two years.

“But we still find not enough being done in many parts of the country. This is nothing short of a scandal. To be fair, some towns and cities are getting to grips with the problem of long-term vacant properties. Yet if just half of the current empty homes could be brought to market, it would go a long way towards resolving the housing crisis, particularly in London.”1 

If you are a landlord with a vacant rental property, you should protect your asset with Unoccupied Property Insurance, which covers any damage until the home is rented again.


Thousands of London Homes Left Empty Despite Housing Crisis

Published On: February 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm


Categories: Property News

Tags: ,,,

Tens of thousands of London homes have been left empty for so long that they are classed as long-term vacant, despite a chronic housing crisis in the capital.

Data obtained by The Guardian found that more than 1,110 properties have been left uninhabited for over a decade.

More than 22,000 homes have been left empty for over six months, despite an extreme shortage of housing in the capital, according to figures from London boroughs in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Councils hoping to bring empty properties back into use have a variety of options, including charging an additional rate of Council Tax, helping homeowners will the cost of repairs and even compulsory purchase orders.

However, the data shows that a large number of properties have been left vacant for years rather than months, suggesting that councils have not been using their powers to ensure existing housing does not go to waste.

More than a third of the total number of empty homes (8,561) have been left vacant for over two years, with 1,151 uninhabited for more than ten years.

The Green Party candidate for the Mayor of London, Sian Berry, comments on the findings: “With homelessness rising to crisis proportions, it’s not right that so many properties should be sitting empty and for so long.

Thousands of London Homes Left Empty Despite Housing Crisis

Thousands of London Homes Left Empty Despite Housing Crisis

“The best way of bringing them back into use is via self-help housing groups – in many cases building a constructive relationship with the owner, who may well not have wanted the property to fall into disuse in the first place and will welcome efforts to put matters right.”1

The real number of empty homes may be even higher, as homeowners are not obliged to report that their property is empty to their local council and councils are not required to keep registers of vacant homes. Additionally, Council Tax databases do not include properties in such a state of disrepair that they are uninhabitable.

Also, just 31 of 33 London boroughs responded to the request – Bromley Council did not respond, while Westminster claimed it could not supply the dates that the properties became empty.

Since April 2013, councils have been able to impose an empty homes premium of an additional 50% Council Tax, discouraging homeowners from admitting that their properties are unoccupied.

Greater London has 3.4m homes, but this number is insufficient in housing the capital’s growing population. Some councils, however, are starting to take action against the buy to leave trend, which sees investors purchase homes with the intention of leaving them empty, in order to take advantage of London’s spiralling house prices.

Last year, Islington Council enforced planning laws aimed at banning owners of new homes from leaving their properties unoccupied for over three months, with a threat of legal action for those that flout the law.

Other reasons that homes become unoccupied include owners not knowing what to do with inherited property or lacking the funds needed to repair properties to a habitable state.

The Chief Executive of charity Empty Homes, Helen Williams, says: “With so many people priced out of decent housing across London, it makes sense to make the most of existing properties, as well as build new homes, to address the capital’s housing needs.

“The casework that councils do with property owners can be incredibly effective in ensuring that homes that have been stuck empty are brought back into use. At the same time, we would like to see more long-term empty properties across England bought by councils and charities to create new homes that are affordable to people on low to moderate incomes.”

However, she adds: “But questions remain as to how well Government-funded housing programmes will continue to support this work, now that dedicated empty homes programmes have come to an end.”1 

If you are a landlord with an empty rental property, remember that you can protect your asset with unoccupied property insurance, before your new tenants move in or while you are completing repair work.



Councils Target Unoccupied Property Owners

Published On: December 12, 2012 at 11:24 am


Categories: Property News

Tags: ,,,

The Office of National Statistics recently released figures indicating that the population of England and Wales has shown an increase of 7% in the previous ten years.[1] This increase is the highest since records began.

Councils Target Unoccupied Property Owners

Councils Target Unoccupied Property Owners


As a result of this, it is expected that tenants or agents that own unoccupied properties can expect reductions to their Council Tax benefits.

Shortage of properties

With almost a quarter of the population of London living in rented accommodation, there are concerns that many more are struggling to find homes. Camden Council has become the first in the capital to announce their intention to cut benefits for those that own unoccupied homes. Moves from the Council are expected to include removing discount on empty properties and reducing the tax-free relaxation period on unoccupied homes.

Camden councillor Theo Blackwell said the moves were to address the number of empty properties in such a popular area. Blackwell said: “Camden has a sever shortage of housing, yet every year thousands of properties are left vacant by private landlords and second homes continue to enjoy a tax break.”[1]

A different tact

Torbay Council in Devon has decided to address the problem of empty properties in a different manner. The Council has created a half-million pound fund to offer money to landlords with empty houses. These properties will then be rented out as council houses in exchange for cash.

Torbay Council are offering landlords up to £10,000 for any repair work to be carried out, on the provision that their property is let as a council house for a period of five years.

Torbay’s deputy mayor, Dave Thomas said: “At the end of five years, the property goes back to the landlord and they can decide whether to continue renting or take it back.”[1]

 Welcome Relief

The scheme being forwarded in Torbay is seen to be welcome to accidental landlords,’= for example, those who have inherited property. In addition, the scheme will be of great assistance to those that have not taken out landlords insurance that covers them in the event of an unoccupied property.