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Bringing homes back into use

Find out what we are doing to help bring empty homes back into use in Torbay.

In 2021 we declared a housing crisis to address local housing issues, making accommodation for local people a Council priority. Many people in our local communities are struggling to afford accommodation and there is a shortage of affordable housing. There is a risk that the housing crisis will not just impact the current generation, but also generations to come.

An empty property is a wasted asset and a potential home to someone who needs it.

A property is a valuable asset, so most home owners don’t leave their properties unoccupied and take steps to bring them back into use. However, depending on the owner’s circumstances, some properties are left empty, which can create increased costs and problems for the owner and the surrounding community, for example:

  • Increased insurance premiums, or no cover
  • Increasing Council Tax and premiums
  • No rent, or income stream
  • Risk of squatters and associated legal fees to remove them
  • Increased risk of vandalism and fire
  • Boarding-up costs, and/or ongoing security costs
  • Ongoing neighbour complaints
  • Increasing disrepair, such as leaks and damp, or vermin

Empty property can cost owners thousands of pounds in lost rental income, increased council tax, insurance, repairs, and security. They can attract anti-social behaviour. Being a source of nuisance, they can upset neighbours and can reduce the value of adjoining properties by up to 20%.

Council Tax premiums

We charge 100% Council Tax on properties from the day the property becomes empty. Currently, you have to pay a long-term empty property premium for properties continually vacant (empty and unfurnished) for over 2 years. The charge remains with the property, not the owner, so if you purchase an empty home, please be aware that you may also have to pay the premium.

If works are being carried out, longer than 12 months it may be possible to delay the additional levy for a year.

It might therefore make more financial sense to complete works sooner and rent it out, or to sell the property via a local property agent, or auction house. There are a number in Torbay that can easily be accessed via a search engine, or local paper.

Repairing an empty property

If you are planning to have works undertaken, it’s worth checking out the HMRC website, as you maybe eligible for a reduced VAT on labour and materials.

Similarly, if you are looking for a reputable trade professional, such as contractors, the following two sites provide a register of businesses that have been thoroughly vetted and approved:

Search for a Trading Standards approved business
Find a trade professional (Planning Portal)

Letting a home brought back into use

We offer a free tenancy matching service that helps landlords with a competitive range of financial and other benefits, for example deposit and rent in advance.

Contact Empty Homes