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Support and advice available for Carlisle homeowners

To coincide with National Empty Homes week (Monday 23 – Sunday 29 September 2019), Carlisle City Council is offering support and advice to local homeowners who have empty properties.

There are currently more than 963 empty and or exempt properties within the Carlisle area, 302 of which have been empty for longer than two years. As well as being a disincentive to anyone staying on or moving to an area, they are also visually unattractive and create an impression of neglect and decline.

As part of the City Council’s Empty Homes Strategy, the Private Sector Housing team aims to reduce the level of empty properties in Carlisle and help meet local housing need by introducing accommodation back into the market. The team:

  • Respond to enquiries and complaints from local residents about empty properties.
  • Proactively identify empty properties and their owners.
  • Provide advice and support to the owners of empty properties with the aim of returning the properties back into use.

The Empty Homes Officer continues to concentrate primarily on the Long-term Empty Homes – those properties that have been empty for more than two years. It is considered that two years generally appears to be sufficient time for owners to attend to individual issues regarding re-establishing homes for habitable use and the turnover remains positive below this threshold. Communication with the long-term empty home owners has continued via letters, follow-up letters, questionnaires, telephone calls and visits. Physical visits are undertaken with, or independent of the owner, to visually assess the state of the property. Those properties identified as a ‘blight’ to the community are given further attention and action to address the issue. Council Tax rises to the 150% premium rate at the two-year point to encourage movement.

Empty Properties – What you can do?

Sell it
You can sell through an estate agent, at an auction, or by advertising the property yourself. Get your property valued by a professional property surveyor or estate agent. Set an asking price but decide how flexible you will be as potential buyers may try to negotiate the price.

Rent it out
If your home is ready to move into, you can rent it out. You could do that yourself or use an agency. Renting through an agency can take out some of the hassle and responsibility, although you have to pay for the service. Or you might be able to get a housing association to take it on.

What if it needs a lot of work?
You may need to refurbish or repair the property before you can sell it or rent it out. Get the work done as soon as possible so you can start to recover the costs.

There’s a reduced VAT rate for the cost of renovating an empty property that’s been empty for two years or more. You can pay just 5% instead of 20%. See the HMRC website.

If you can’t afford the work or it’s difficult to organise (for example, because you live a long way away), think about selling to a builder or developer at a lower price.

For further details on empty properties or to report an empty property, telephone 01228 817301 or email [email protected]

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