Advice for empty home owners
This page is designed to give empty home owners some initial ideas about how to bring your property back into use. Some local authorities will have officers, usually in the housing or environmental health department, who can help you with more specific local information about bringing your empty property back into use.
There are a lot of reasons to want to bring an empty property back into use, including:
- The potential to make an income from your property
- The potential to reduce maintenance and security costs on your property
- Increasing the value of your property
- Improving the amenity of your local community
There are similarly downsides to keeping a property empty:
- We have estimated that it can cost over £7,000 per annum to leave a home empty – that includes the cost of council tax, minimal security to the property (boarding), and lost potential rent. The Empty Homes Agency has similarly estimated that it can cost an empty home owner up to £7,000 per annum to keep their home empty
- If your property lies unused and deteriorating it is at higher risk of vandalism, crime and damage from the elements.
- The longer your property is left empty the less valuable it becomes. The Empty Homes Agency has estimated that property values of properties adjacent to empty homes can fall as much as 18%.
Why bring your property back into use?
Bringing your property back into use is of benefit to you as the owner because at the moment it will only be costing you money when it could be making you money. The capital you could realise from selling or the rental income you could make from letting it out are worth the effort to take the necessary steps to bring your property back into us.
Below we have listed a few options for you to consider. In the first instance it is always advisable to get in touch with your local council to see if they offer more locally focused advice and information for empty home owners in your area. You can find your local authorities’ website on the direct.gov website.
Selling your empty home
There are a number of options open to you if you are considering selling your home. It is worth bearing in mind that it is not always necessary to renovate an empty home before it can be sold. You need to calculate what resources you have at your disposal and whether the increased sale price you might achieve after any renovation works is sufficient to cover the costs both in time and money it would cost you to undertake such works.
- Estate agents – check with your local estate agents to see if they list and market empty properties. Some won’t but if you are serious about selling and realistic about your expected asking price most agents should be open to working with you. See our Get Advice pages for more information on selling your home with an agent.
- Auction houses – empty homes are frequently sold at property auctions. Developers who don’t mind doing work to renovate properties attend these auctions. They offer a quick way to sell your property as there is no process of exchanging missives, the price is agreed and legally binding on the day of the auction. Below are some auction houses that often feature Scottish properties but it is worth checking if there are more local auctions near you:
- For more info on selling your home at auction see our Get Advice Pages
- Local Housing Associations – another route to explore would be to contact any local housing associations that operate near your property to see if they are interested in purchasing your property to add to their own portfolio of properties in the area.
Renting your empty home
There are several ways to rent out a property – not all of them involve you performing the day to day duties of a landlord yourself.
- Renting your property yourself - If you are thinking of letting your home, it is vital that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. One of the first things you will need to do is register as a landlord with every local authority area that you let a house out in. You can find out more about landlord registration here.
- Renting through a letting agent - Letting agents can provide a property management service, find you tenants and deal with collection of rents and deposits in exchange for a fee. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (www.arla.co.uk) is a good website to check if you are not sure what letting agents operate in your area.
- Renting your property through your council’s Private Sector Leasing Scheme - Some councils run Private Sector Leasing schemes to increase the number of homes they can offer locally to tenants on their housing waiting list. Properties usually need to meet set council standards and in exchange property owners are guaranteed a set rent level for the agreed lease period. Call your local council’s housing department in the first instance to ask if they run a Private Sector Leasing Scheme and if they are accepting new properties to the scheme.
Short term letting - Property Guardians
There are commercial companies who offer a “housesitting” service and install occupants in empty buildings to keep an eye on them. The owner has to pay a small weekly fee, but this is usually much less than paying for 24 hour security. Below are a couple of well known Property Guardian companies operating in across the UK:
Energy Efficiency Funding
There are various funding streams in Scotland aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions that can be accessed by private sector empty home owners, depending on their situation. Considering energy efficiency measures a part of a refurbishment project can provide a number of benefits. Click here for a summary of funding currently available.
You may feel your property needs renovation or repair before you consider selling, renting or living in your property yourself. Some councils can provide you with advice and information about doing up your property and if you are fall into certain categories you may be eligible for some forms of assistance – though these are extremely limited at the moment.
Some councils also run Trusted Trader Schemes that can help you to help you find a reliable local tradesperson to carry out work on your property.
If you are confused about where to start with renovating your property consider whether selling the property in its current state might be an option. If you are sure you want to renovate but don’t know what to do try getting in touch with your local council to see if they can offer you some advice.