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Empty properties

We are committed to tackling the challenge of empty properties in the county. The return of empty properties back into use is an essential part of our overall Housing Strategy to meet the accommodation needs of the people of Herefordshire.

We can provide advice and, in some instances, financial assistance to help bring an empty property back into use. We also have an enforcement role for extreme cases where properties are left unoccupied for a prolonged time and in a poor state of repair, and where owners are unwilling to deal with them.

Once a property has been registered as empty for over six months we contact the owners to request that they complete a questionnaire relating to their empty property. This is to establish whether the council can assist in any way to help bring the property back into use.

How do I report an empty property?

To report an empty property please complete our empty property form.

Can I get help letting my empty property?

The Kemble Managed Leasing Scheme (KMLS) is designed to take the stress out of letting a property, with rent guaranteed and full management for the duration of the lease. 

The owner of the empty property will enter into a lease agreement with Kemble Housing Association for a three year period. 

Benefits include:

  • Rent guaranteed for the duration of the three year lease, even if the property is unoccupied
  • Competitive rent level
  • Hassle free full management
  • Long term tenants
  • No set-up fees, free inventories and no charge for re-letting
  • Free legal fees in relation to tenancy matters.

If you own an empty property and would like to find out more about the scheme please contact us:

Can I get financial help renovating my empty property?

Loans for empty homes

We are working in partnership with WM Housing to offer owners of empty properties an interest free loan to help fund the work required to bring their property back into use.

The following criteria apply:

  • The property must have been empty for more than 12 months
  • The loan must be used to provide accommodation to meet an affordable housing need
  • Loans range from £1,000 to £15,000
  • Two to five year interest free repayment plans
  • A charge will be registered against the property until the loan is repaid

All loans that are approved will be subject to a number of conditions to ensure that the loan funds are recycled to assist in the bringing of further empty properties back into use.  

VAT reduction

If a residential property has remained empty for two or more years, the owner may qualify for a reduced VAT rate of five per cent on most of the renovation costs. We can provide written confirmation that will allow the owner to claim the reduced VAT rate.

If the owner uses a VAT registered builder to undertake the work, the VAT they charge on the works will be at the lower rate. The builder is responsible for claiming the difference from Revenue and Customs.

Empty Homes Grant

If you are the owner of an empty property that is in need of repair and renovation, financial assistance could be available in the form of an Empty Homes Grant (EHG).

Eligibility for funding is dependent upon a number of factors such as:

  • Available resources
  • Property location
  • Property type
  • Housing need in the area

Please note that no guarantee of financial assistance can be given prior to purchase, and that grants cannot be paid retrospectively.

The main features of this option are:

  • The level of grant available will vary depending on the size of the property. In most cases the owner will be asked to make a contribution 
  • In return for the grant, the owner will agree to lease their property to a housing association for an agreed period. A lease agreement is entered into and the rent charged will be in line with affordable housing rent levels (80 per cent of open market rent)
  • The lease period will be for 5 to 10 years. This is determined by the amount of the grant after consultation with the council and housing association
  • The housing association will guarantee the rent for the duration of the lease, even if the property remains empty for a period of time

For more information about all of the schemes please contact housing needs and development:

There is also assistance available for existing landlords who join the Home Cert Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

What is the Town Centre Living Project?

We are undertaking a review of all market towns in relation to accommodation and vacant space above shops. The aim of the project is to utilise existing space within the town centre to create new accommodation and a more vibrant town centre environment.

In line with the Unitary Development Plan, we are offering a range of advice and assistance, from grants for renovation and conversion work to tenant finding and management options. The aim is to help owners and leaseholders to convert unused space above shops into residential accommodation that will make use of the space and generate extra income. There is a good demand for town centre accommodation for a range of households.

For further information contact us:

What can the council do to force the owner of an empty property to bring it back into use?

We can take action against owners of empty properties who persistently refuse to cooperate with requests from us to maintain or secure a property and who have resisted all attempts by the us to bring their property back into use.

The following lists the different types of enforcement action we can take:

Unsightly properties

Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 gives local councils the powers to address unsightly land or the external appearance of an empty property which is causing issues for neighbouring properties or the community.

Unsecure properties

Due to potential hazards, section 29 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 gives local councils the power to secure an empty property by either boarding up or fencing off the property.

Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO)

The Housing Act 2004 gives local councils the power to take over the management of an empty property. Empty Dwelling Management Orders can be made against properties that have been empty for more than six months, although some properties may be exempt. An Empty Dwelling Management Order could mean a landlord loses the right to decide how the property is managed and who lives in it. The only sure way to prevent this from happening is for the owner to bring the property back into use.

Enforced sale

The Law and Property Act 1925 gives local councils the rights of a mortgage lender where the local council has issued and enforced a land charge against a property, so that a sale can be enforced to recover the debt.

Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)

Section 17 of the Housing Act 1985 gives local councils the power to acquire buildings and land through compulsory purchase. This allows Compulsory Purchase Orders to be made for the purpose of providing housing accommodation or facilities connected to housing accommodation, for example environmental improvements. A Compulsory Purchase Order is an extreme measure and a lengthy administrative task and will only be considered when all other options have been exhausted.

For further information please contact us: