Help us bring empty homes back into use

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Private housing, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Did you know that in the Epping Forest District there are approximately 447 properties which have been empty for more than 6 months?

We are asking for your help this National Empty Homes Week (16 to 23 October 2017) – report empty homes to us, so that we can help the owners bring them back into use.

Empty homes week

Why are properties left empty?

Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons but they can be the source of much misery to neighbours who have to live nearby. It is estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10%.

There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax premiums, property fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.

Financial assistance

We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties in the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. It is recognised that a stumbling block can be that the empty property is in disrepair and cannot be lived in, let or easily sold in its condition.

We can offer the following schemes:

  • The Empty Homes Repayable Assistance offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property that you intend to live in yourself, but is in poor condition. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.
  • The PLACE Loan offers up to £25,000 if you have a property that you would like to have renovated in order that you can sell or rent it out. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within two years in the case of a loan to sell, or five years in the case of the loan to let.

We always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way. We have certain enforcement powers that we may use to ensure an empty property is brought back to use, particularly if it has been empty a long time and is problematic to the local community.

Help for empty home owners

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder, said: “As a council we are fully committed to bringing empty properties back into use and are looking to help owners in every way we can. However where all other measures have failed, we are prepared to take enforcement action as a last resort.”

She added: ”If you are aware of an empty property or own one yourselves, please let us know. We will need the address and any other information you think might be helpful. We will do our best to contact the owner and work with them to bring the property back to use, and all calls are treated in confidence.”

Report an empty property

Further information