This will mean an increase from £2,000 to £8,000 a year for a typical band ‘D’ empty home.
It will be one way of bringing long-term empty houses back into use and is being highlighted during Empty Homes Week, 15–21 February 2021.
Throughout the week Dorset Council will be using Facebook and Twitter feeds to highlight the issue of long-term empty homes and showing examples of how the council is taking a wide range of steps to bring them back into use.
The council has estimated there to be around 400 long-term empty properties in Dorset. Each one is a wasted home. Demand for housing in the Dorset Council area is extremely high, with over 6,000 people looking for a suitable home on the housing register.
Empty homes also have the potential to damage communities by becoming derelict, overgrown or by attracting anti-social behaviour.
What is Dorset Council doing about empty homes?
The council’s Housing Standards Team is urging people to come forward to report or seek help to deal with a long-term empty property.
A dedicated Empty Homes Officer will investigate cases, help identify the worst properties and then take the most appropriate action.
Help and advice for owners
Owners of empty properties will be offered advice and assistance about how they can bring a property back into use.
Loans of up to £25,000 are also available from Lendology Community Interest Company to help carry out repairs to bring the property back into use.
Owners of properties that have been empty for two years or more may be able to claim a reduced rate of VAT on renovation or alteration works.
If offers of help and assistance haven’t worked and a property is affecting the local community, robust enforcement action will be considered to bring the property back into use.
This can include compulsory purchase or taking over the property by an Empty Dwelling Management Order. The council is actively working on over 30 of the worst empty properties where such action is either being progressed or considered.
Increased Council Tax premiums
As mentioned above, from April this year, houses which have been empty for 10 years or more will be charged quadruple council tax.
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Safety said, “The council is now taking a wide range of action to bring long-term empty homes back into use. We need more housing for Dorset and empty homes can play a key part in helping us achieve that.
“Where empty homeowners don’t want to work with us, we won’t shy away from taking enforcement action to achieve our aims of creating more homes and improving our communities.”
More about empty homes
Long term empty homes are defined as those being empty for two years or more.
Properties can be left empty for several reasons including:
- insufficient funds to carry out repairs
- a lack of knowledge
- inheritance issues or unsettled probate
- family disputes
- development problems
- the complexity and expense of renovating listed buildings
- waiting for a change in property prices
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones added, “If you know of a property that has been left empty for a long time or if you own an empty home, let the council know about it by registering it online at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/emptyhomes.”
Empty Homes Week is supported by The Empty Homes Network which supports people involved in delivering empty property strategies. It was launched with the support of government, the Housing Corporation and the Empty Homes Agency. For more information visit www.ehnetwork.org.uk.
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