Home Business and economy National Empty Homes week

National Empty Homes week

by Jonathan Kearney

Knowsley Council is supporting National Empty Homes week which takes place from Monday 28 February until Sunday 6 March 2022.

A key priority for the Council is to bring empty homes back into use and take action around empty homes that are having a negative impact in our communities. Over the last year, there has been a 14% reduction in the number of long-term empty homes in the Borough.

The Council proactively works with owners and developers to look at ways properties can be brought back into sustainable use, often after being unoccupied for an extended period. The Council also utilises enforcement measures where neglected buildings are causing detrimental issues in our neighbourhoods.

Throughout the week, Council officers will be working with residents and owners and undertaking visits across the Borough with a view to taking action to bring them back into use.

There are a variety of reasons why homes are empty, but there are a range of actions home owners can take if they have an empty property. The most straight forward option is to sell the property. Alternatively, you could consider letting it out, meaning you will receive a regular income.

It’s advised that you become accredited with your local authority or join a national organisation such the Residential Landlords Association or the National Landlords Association. Alternatively Knowsley Council offer the Knowsley Landlord Accreditation Scheme – a voluntary scheme designed to recognise good quality, well managed private sector accommodation in Knowsley. Unlike other similar schemes the Knowsley Landlord Accreditation Scheme is free to join!

Councillor Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “Tackling empty homes is a key priority for the Council, as well as being a national issue. From a local perspective, I know that demand for properties is Knowsley outstrips supply so it’s really important that we can work with property owners to bring empty properties back into use. For those property owners who already are or are considering to let their property, I’d encourage them to join the Knowsley Landlord Accreditation scheme which offers and range of advice and benefits for them and their tenants.”

Empty properties can have a substantial impact on the local community and become a target for anti-social behaviour, vandalism and fly tipping.  Owners can also be left out of pocket by over £19,000 per year through lost rental / sales income, Council Tax, maintenance repairs and break-ins.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, added: “We want our neighbourhoods to be vibrant and thriving which includes properties being occupied. Sometimes empty properties can be a target for anti-social behaviour and criminal damage and blight our communities. We are doing all that we can to identify empty properties and will work with the owners to bring them back into use.”

The owners of properties that have been empty and substantially unfurnished for 2 years or more, may need to pay an empty home premium up to 300% on top of the full Council Tax charge for their property, depending on the length of time empty.

Support is available for the renovation of long term empty properties through a reduction in VAT that is paid on certain elements of the refurbishment, depending on how long the property has been empty, with a two-year and ten-year empty discount. You can find specific details on VAT reductions on the Government’s website.

Further information about empty homes in Knowsley is available on the Council’s website.

To report any issues relating to an empty home, please contact the Council’s Empty Homes Officer on 0151 443 3558 or email empty.homes@knowsley.gov.uk