Bringing empty properties back into use

Bringing an empty home back into use can improve the whole neighbourhood.

Empty homes are a wasted resource, especially when housing is in such short supply.

They can also be a blight on the neighbourhood and quickly become targets for crime and vandals, squatters and general anti-social behaviour.

An empty property could be a home for a family needing somewhere to live.

The cost of leaving a home empty

An empty home is an asset at risk. What should be making you money is costing you money.

It is estimated that the cost of leaving a home empty can be as high as £8,000 a year if you take in account lost rent, taxes, insurance and deterioration of the property value.

What you can do to get your empty home back into use

We can help you get an empty home back into use so that it can help someone in housing need.

You have a number of options available:

  • Repair and upgrade the property so it can be lived in
  • Let the property direct to a tenant
  • Let the property through our Deposit Guarantee Scheme
  • Let the property through a private letting agent
  • Sell the property to a private developer or housing association
  • Sell the property on the open market
  • Sell the property at auction

Deposit Guarantee Scheme

We run a Deposit Guarantee Scheme to help people, who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and considered by law to be a priority, find a privately rented home.

If you want to let your empty home through our Deposit Guarantee Scheme, we will:

  • Help you find a suitable tenant
  • Guarantee a deposit (called a bond)
  • Pay one month in advance
  • Continue to provide tenant and landlord support

For more details, please contact our Housing Options Team using the contact details on this page.

Empty commercial properties

In some circumstances, and subject to planning permission, housing associations may be able to attract grant funding to convert empty commercial property to residential use.

If you own such a property and are interested in discussing this option, please contact our Housing Strategy and Enabling team using the contact details on  this page.

Council tax discounts on empty homes

If you own a property where no one lives, you may be entitled to a discount or be exempt from council tax. This depends on how long your property has been empty and what is happening to it.

It is possible to claim council tax exemption if you are carrying out repairs or structural work to make it habitable. This means major repairs or alterations, such as to the roof, ceilings, walls or floors. This exemption can last for up to six months and the property must be unfurnished and unoccupied.

For further details please contact the our council tax billing team using the contact details on this page.

VAT discounts and exemptions on empty homes

In the past, developers have been stopped from conversion work and refurbishing empty properties because they could not recover the VAT on their costs.

A builder can now charge a VAT rate of five per cent, compared with the standard rate of 20 per cent, on work to renovate a house that has been empty for three years.

For more information, visit the HM Revenue and Customs website or call the VAT Helpline on 0300 200 3700.

Letting privately

You may want to consider letting your property yourself or through a managing agent.

If you use a managing agent, you may want to use one that belongs to the National Approved Letting Scheme which sets out a service standard and operates a complaints procedure for letting and managing agents.

For details, visit the National Approved Letting Scheme website.

Other organisations that can help you

The NLA offers limited, free advice to non-members. Members receive advice on property insurance, a member's journal and a newsletter.

Advice and help

We also offer free advice and information on tenancies and housing issues to landlords and tenants.

For more information, contact our Housing Options Team using the contact details on this page.

Reporting an empty property

We rely on information recorded from Council Tax data to help identify properties which have been empty for more than six months.
You can also help us by letting us know about any empty properties. You can do this by filling in our report an empty property online form or by contacting the private sector housing  team using the contact details on this page.

We will need these details:

  • The address of the property
  • Any concerns the property may be causing
  • How long it has been empty, if you know
  • Any other information, such as who owns it and why it is empty

If you are an owner or are responsible for an empty property

If you own an empty home but have plans to bring your property back into use, and you just want to let us know about it, please contact the private sector housing team using the contact details on this page.

Having a link with an owner is important to us, as we can then give advice and help to get the property back into use as soon as possible.

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