Owners of empty homes who do not have the funds to refurbish them are being encouraged to take advantage of help available to bring them back into use and help to increase the number of homes available for rent in Tamworth.
There are currently 228 homes standing empty in Tamworth, many of which could be brought back into use with the help two different sources of funding.
Empty Homes Grants of up to £10,000 are available from Tamworth Borough Council. The scheme means these homes can be brought back up to a lettable standard. They are then added to the council’s nomination scheme and used to house people from the council’s waiting list. All the rent money goes to the owner of the property, which is rented out for up to three years before being returned to the owner.
The project is aimed specifically at people who may have been left property as a legacy and struggle to maintain it, homeowners with no savings or people who have not been able to afford the upkeep on the home, either while ill or living elsewhere.
Tamworth Borough Council also runs an initiative with Waterloo Housing Group where if a property has been empty for more than six months, the owner can lease it to Waterloo for up to six years, where it will be refurbished to a lettable standard (up to a value of £16,000).
The refurbished property is then advertised on Tamworth Borough Council’s ‘Finding a Home’ choice-based letting site and let to someone in housing need.
Once the property is let, Waterloo pays a guaranteed monthly rent to the property owner until the end of the lease, as well as providing housing management and maintenance services. At the end of the lease, the improved property is then fully returned to the owner.
Two other schemes are also available to help bring empty homes back into use.
The first is a VAT reduction scheme offered by HMRC for the renovation of empty homes. A reduced rate of 5% VAT can be charged by a builder for repair, maintenance or improvements carried out to a property, which has been empty for at least two years.
The Dulux ‘Freshen Up’ scheme offers advice and discounts on top brand to help owners improve their properties.
Tamworth Borough Council is using National Empty Homes Week, which runs from November 10 to November 14, as an opportunity to highlight the schemes, and to offer help and advice to people who have empty properties in Tamworth.
A drop-in session is being held on Tuesday November 11 in reception at Marmion House between 10am and 3pm. Anyone who owns an empty property in Tamworth and would like to discuss their options further is invited to come along for help and advice.
Cllr Daniel Cook, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said, “The schemes are excellent ways of bringing empty homes back into use, and providing good-quality rented housing for people who need it.
“Changes to council tax legislation means that if a property is left empty for more than two years, the owner will be charged 150% council tax, which means it is costing them to have their properties standing empty.
“We have approximately 2,000 people looking for a home in Tamworth and a shortage of affordable rented accommodation. These initiatives are helping us to bridge the gap.
“Tamworth Borough Council is committed to working with owners to bring these homes back into use, providing the owner with a more valuable asset and someone with a housing need a much-wanted home. We are keen to work with property owners and I would urge anyone to get in touch to see if they can benefit from these schemes.”
For information about any of the schemes or to report an empty property, please contact the Strategic Housing Service on 01827 709469, email email@example.com or visit www.tamworth.gov.uk empty-homes
- Empty homes are properties which have been left vacant for six months or longer
- There are currently 228 empty properties in Tamworth, 98% of which are privately owned
- Owners of properties which have been empty for more than two years are now liable for council tax of 150%