Empty Houses – Landlords face another kick in the teeth

There are evidently around 700,000 homes empty in the UK at the moment. This represents just over 3% of the total housing stock. But the real figure of concern is that over quarter of a million homes are long-term empty (classified as being over two years vacant). It is estimated that Nottingham has over 4,000 vacant homes – with perhaps 1,000 long term empty.

empty-houses

Clearly this is a real concern – on two counts. Firstly that we have homeless people and secondly that we have more-or-less stopped building new homes since the property crash in 2008. Annual housing completion in the year to September 2012 according to the Government was 117,000 – 6% up on 2011.

The Future Homes Commission believe that we need 300,000 new homes each year.

The maths don’t add up. But clearly could be helped if we can shift some of the vacant stock.

In the last couple of days some Councils have instigated Government changes which means the removal of the 50% relief for second homes (fair enough) but also that vacant houses will attract Council Tax from the day they are vacated. Furthermore a premium of 50% can be applied to those houses in the long term vacant category.

I have no issue with the latter proposal – it might encourage those long-term vacant stock to get them into the market. Generally speaking these houses can be a blight. But I don’t agree with the paying rates on day one of vacancy. The usual Government drivel was trotted out – “It will encourage owners not to have property vacant for any length of time’.

But what about those properties that need work – or those that are not easy to let – either in a location which has challenges or perhaps at a time of year when the market is flat (now?). As seems par for the course – this Government stumble into policy after policy without thinking through the consequences for the man in the street?

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