Unlocking the rental potential from empty homes

From Robert Ulph on March 7, 2022

We know too well about the shortage of supply in the private rental sector, as demand continues to outstrip the number of available properties, and as this week is National Empty Homes Week, it is a good time to highlight the vacant properties we have locally which could make a real difference to those looking to rent.

As part of the national campaign, Propertymark has written to the Government wanting action on empty homes to bolster this much-needed supply. The latest data from Action on Empty Homes shows that 238,306 homes have been empty for over six months, and that there are over 600,000 vacant homes in England – more than double the Government’s annual housebuilding target. 

In a separate report by the insurance company Admiral, for a report they published last October, two of Suffolk’s five districts – East Suffolk and West Suffolk – had the highest number of empty homes in the whole of the East of England as of March last year. East Suffolk had the highest number of houses that have been long-term vacant in the whole of the region, with 1,309 properties empty in the district for two years or more, for which it was ranked seventh out of all councils in England.

Many of these will have potential to be brought back into use so that rental properties can come onto the market, in particular families can be rehomed from temporary accommodation and the property owner benefits too. A vacant property is often the target for vandalism and other criminal activity, so having their property back in use and occupied means their property is being looked after as well as getting a rental income from it.

Local communities benefit from having fewer empty properties which always helps in transforming or maintaining their neighbourhood. 

Propertymark is supporting Action on Empty Homes by renewing its call for the Government to restart the Empty Homes Community Grant Programme, to introduce long-term incentives for owners to bring properties back to use and to remove VAT on home and energy efficiency improvements as well as discounts or exemptions to Council Tax and Stamp Duty when empty properties are purchased and utilised. 

Propertymark also believes that supporting the conversion of suitable larger empty commercial premises to residential use has a valuable role in providing more housing options. As well as impacting the rental sector, lack of supply is also a major issue for those looking to buy so all opportunities must be taken to do more to manage the existing and underused stock.

If you need any advice on how to bring an empty home back into use please get in touch as I am always happy to help. There is great potential to provide a home to somebody who needs it and rental income from a once vacant property.

Equally if you need any advice on any other matters on the local property market, please do not hesitate to contact me.