Empty Properties

 

In Arun, an empty property is classified as any privately-owned residential property that has remained unoccupied for at least six months. It does not include holiday homes, second homes or properties which are empty due to the owner being in care. Empty homes represent a wasted resource and can have a negative impact on local communities. There are more than 700,000 empty homes throughout the UK and some houses have remained empty for more than 20 years, which represents a family home lost to a whole generation. Long-term empty properties can:

•    Attract crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour
•    Become a public health hazard and a magnet for vermin
•    Look unsightly and pose a potential danger to the community including children
•    Detract from the neighbourhood amenity
•    Reduce the value of adjacent properties
•    Cost the community for Police and Environmental Health action, as well as the loss of Council Tax revenue
 
Arun’s key objectives are to achieve the best possible use of the housing stock in the Arun area, we want to improve our built environment and minimise greenfield development by utilising our existing properties and improve housing conditions. If you know of a long-term empty property you can report it to us using this report it form or email empty.homes@arun.gov.uk. If you would like information on finding an empty home in Arun you can view it here:  02-02-18 Finding an Empty home in Arun_print.pdf [pdf] 397KB. For more information, please see our Empty Homes Strategy 2018-2023 .pdf [pdf] 3MB If you own an empty property and need some advice, please contact us and we will try to help. We can offer advice and guidance on ways to get your property back into use at reduced levels of VAT in qualifying cases. If an owner of a long-term empty property declines assistance or fails to respond, the Council can use various powers including the service of Notices which require works to be carried out. In more extreme cases we can use Empty Dwelling Management Orders, Enforced Sale Procedures and Compulsory Purchase Orders may be used in order to bring long-term empty properties back into use.

 

Empty Property Assistance Programme 

Arun District Council has been tasked with helping  local empty home owners in bringing their house back into use, and increase the supply of housing available in this area. Therefore we are offering:

  • Grants up to £5,000 per property for homes that have been empty for longer than 6 months. This is designed to carry out a small amount of work to the properties so they can be let out through the Councils Guaranteed Rent Scheme. The grant includes funding a gas safety and energy performance certificate. The Council will nominate an agent to manage the property for the length of the nomination rights; we would also provide nominations (tenants) for the property. The grant is not repayable unless the property is sold during the nomination period, which is up to 5 years. The grant is secured by a legal charge and an administration fee of 10% of the grant value is charged.

or

  • Interest free loans up to £10,000 per property for homes that have been empty for longer than 6 months. This is designed to help meet the financial shortfall of returning a property to a let-able condition. The loan is repayable monthly. The Council will nominate an agent to manage the property for the length of the nomination rights; we would also provide nominations (tenants) for the property. The loan is secured by a legal charge. An administration charge of 10% of the loan value is charged.

 

Guaranteed Rent Scheme in partnership with Northwoods Letting Agents 

Placing your property with Northwood’s on our Guaranteed Rent Scheme guarantees 

  • You receive your rent even if the tenant fails to pay
  • You receive your rent even when the property is vacant
  • You get paid on the same day every month
  • A contract starts date
  • You will not be charged commission
  • No additional fees to pay
  • The internal condition of the property up to 6 weeks’ worth of rent

 

How the guaranteed scheme works

In brief, Northwoods become the tenant of your property and guarantee you a fixed amount of rental income for one year renewable annually. The details of this are laid out in the guaranteed rent scheme.pdf [pdf] 31KB. This amount is guaranteed regardless of void periods and even if the tenant stops paying the rent. It is not an insurance backed scheme and it does give a continuity of income. This leaves you with a hassle free income. The amount we can pay is based on the local housing benefit allowance. If you compare it to traditional schemes it comes out very favourably as there are no additional charges at all, no set up fees, inventory charges etc.   

In addition, Arun District Council is also looking at widening the Accreditation Scheme to encompass other private sector housing so any property that is eligible for the Empty Property Assistance Programme will also have their property up to Accreditation standards. If this is something you think you may be eligible for or would like to discuss in more detail, please contact christian.melgar@arun.gov.uk or telephone 01903 737673.

 

YMCA Release and Repair scheme

Arun District Council is working with the YMCA on a scheme to bring long term empty properties back into use. The YMCA would arrange and pay for any works needed to bring the property up to a lettable standard and then lease the property from the owner for 5-10 years and rent it out to a household in housing need. The owner would receive a guaranteed rental income, the YMCA would manage the tenancy.

If you are interested in this option and would like to find out more, please contact Greg Smith from the YMCA:

Email: gregory.smith@sussexcentralymca.org.uk
Telephone: 01273 222558 or 07834 050128.

 

Renovate your property

Trading standards in West Sussex provide useful advice for those undertaking building works. Their ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme has a regularly updated list of approved traders there website is  https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ or you may be able to request a Buy with Confidence directory by ringing 01243 642124.

 

VAT Reductions

Properties that have been empty for two years or more can benefit from a VAT discount for carrying out works to bring it back into use. We can often provide a letter confirming how long a property has been empty for, to provide evidence for the reduction. For more information see the HM Revenue website

 

Enforcement Action

It is worth being aware that the council has legal powers to deal with empty properties at their discretion that are in a bad state of repair, cause problems for neighbours or the community or have been left empty for a significant amount of time. These could include powers to ensure properties are of an acceptable appearance, boarding up, Enforced Sale and Compulsory Purchase Orders.