Bringing empty properties back into use

Channel 4 Television has recently run a campaign spearheaded by George Clarke, to bring back empty properties ‘Empties’ back into use.

Some 88% of empty properties in the UK are privately owned and the main reason why the properties are left empty for so long is the lack of funds to carry out work to bring them up to a suitable standard for letting.

George Clarke and the Channel 4 publicity team have made enough noise about this subject to catch the attention of The Scottish Government who have allocated up to £4,000,000 (4m) to individuals owning empty property in Scotland to offer them as interest free loans. £2,000,000 (£2m) of this is targeted specifically at homes in rural areas for the purpose of bringing them back into use.

The Welsh Government have made a sum of £10,000,000 (£10m) available to owners of empty properties and they have launched their ‘Houses to Homes recyclable loan fund.

Commercial Property
There are various services available in respect of empty commercial properties and one specifically which was features in Channel 4’s ‘Phils Empty Home Getaway’ matches empty commercial properties with short term tenants. This type of service provides owners with much needed rental income to keep, and maintain the property in good order.

Additionally, due to recent change in legistlation regarding empty commercial properties there is now business rates payable on the property when it is unoccupied. There is generally a period of 3 months free of rates and after that, the owner is charged business rates. An exception to this applies if the property is undergoing significant works and owners will then need to apply to the local authority for a period of exemption. Business rates for empty commercial property can be a crippling expense for the owner of the, particularly if the property is owned on a mortgage.

Property Tax on Empty Residential Property
Responsibility for residential property is devolved and different laws apply depending on which part of the UK the property is located in.

Changes to legistlation and local and private initiatives is ongoing with regards to empty residential and empty commercial properties. You are advised to research the individual area that concerns you

With regards to development grants, refurbishment works and buy to occupy property. Remember to ensure you have adequate insurance cover for your property undergoing renovation and conversion.