A long-term empty home is any privately owned home which has been empty for six months or more.
We take a proactive approach to empty homes and are committed to working with you to get them back into use. To do this we offer a variety of different services, information and general advice. We're also a member of the Kent County Council empty property initiative 'No Use Empty'.
The scheme offers a range of benefits to help you return your property to use including:
- Interest free loans
- Reduced VAT schemes
- Reduced auction fees
- Advice on renovation and refurbishment
- Property Management advice
We use Council Tax records as a primary source of information to identify empty homes, but where data is not available, an empty property can be reported to us on our form.
If you refuse to talk with us and are not taking reasonable measures to return a property to use we will consider using our legislative powers.
Depending on the nature and condition of a property this could fall into several categories:
- Neglected and poorly maintained properties - Action under S.215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 has been successfully taken by us against owners of empty properties where it is deemed that the external condition of a property is adversely affecting the amenity of the area. A 100% success rate has been achieved in all of these cases which have ended in court. In most cases, this has also been successful in motivating the owner to either rent out the property or put it up for sale.
- Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) under the Housing Act 2004 – This allows us to take a temporary lease of up to seven years on a property and rent it out until all costs of refurbishing the property and managing the property have been recovered. The rental income then goes to the owner of the property until the end of the lease when the EDMO can be renewed or the property is returned to the owner.
- Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) - If an owner refuses all attempts to return a property to use, we may consider the compulsory purchase of the property and sell it on to either a private purchaser, Housing Association or retain the property as part of our own stock.
Enforced Sale under the Law of Property Act 1925 – This is effective when dealing with empty properties where the owner cannot be traced or is unwilling to speak with us and is used in the recovery of debt.