National empty homes week 2019 runs from 23 September to 29 September.
Empty homes across the Epping Forest district have fallen nearly 40% in the past 10 years from a total of 611 in 2008 to 374 in 2018.
We’re highlighting these figures as part of National Empty Homes Week and promoting opportunities and schemes to bring empty properties back into use.
With increasing demand for housing in the district and building on Green belt generally prohibited it is particularly important as many empty properties are brought back into use as possible.
A property is defined as empty if unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than 6 months. It may have fallen into disrepair and be difficult for the owner to live in, let out or sell in its current condition.
We offer financial support through the following schemes:
Empty homes repayable assistance
Up to £10,000 can be offered if there is an empty property in poor condition that the owner intends to live in or let to a tenant. The money is repaid when the property is eventually sold.
Up to £25,000 can be offered for a property to be renovated in ordered to sell or rent. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within 2 years in the case of a loan to sell or 5 years in the case of a loan to let.
An empty property is wasted resource
We will always try to work with owners of an empty property in a constructive way. However, there are certain enforcement powers that can be used if the property has been empty for a very long time and is problematic to the local community.
It is estimated that homes next door to empty properties can be devalued by 10% and there are often additional concerns of nuisance vermin, vandalism, anti-social behaviour and squatters. For owners an empty property is wasted resource in terms of potential rental income. It can be costly if in disrepair, higher insurance costs, increased council tax premiums of 150%, property mortgage fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.
Councillor Aniket Patel is responsible for private sector housing at Epping Forest District Council, he said: “There are a number of reasons why a property may be empty for a long period of time, but living next to one can cause lots of concerns for neighbours.”
“Here in Epping Forest, once an empty property has been identified we try to work with the owner to bring it back into use. By offering incentives such as the empty homes repayable assistance and the place loan we can provide the financial support often needed to bring the property back to a suitable living condition, which they owner can then live in, rent out or sell on.”
A much-needed home for a family
Councillor Holly Whitbread, portfolio holder for Housing added: “Epping Forest is an area where housing is in very high demand. We are committed to bringing empty properties back into use and a newly refurbished or renovated one could provide a much-needed home for a family.”
Report an empty property
To report an empty property online and find details of financial support visit empty properties.