A letter has been sent to the owners of long-term empty properties in West Oxfordshire outlining the grants and low-cost loan schemes available to meet costs of bringing a property back into occupation.
In West Oxfordshire there are currently 317 residences identified as vacant and unused, 50 of which have been for over 2 years. It is estimated that such a property can cost the owner up to £10,000 per year in security, repairs, insurance, and council tax.
This year 15-21 October marks Empty Homes Week 2018 and West Oxfordshire District Council is working with the national campaign charity ‘Empty Homes’ to highlight the 300,000 long term unoccupied houses across the UK.
Cllr Steve Good, Cabinet Member for Housing said, “Empty homes are a waste of a valuable asset especially when there are around 400 people in priority need on our Homeseeker waiting list. We urge people to consider how to best use their properties if they are empty and to contact us as we can offer advice and help.”
The local authority charges a 50% premium on council tax for any house left empty for more than 2 years. The Government has agreed to double the total cost from April 2019 on owners who refuse to address the issue.
It should be noted, however, that the Council Tax system provides statutory exemptions for properties left empty for a specific purpose – for example, when a person goes into care or during probate.
The Council has the power to enforce Empty Dwelling Management Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders but prefers to work with owners to bring their houses back into use.
Anyone interested in letting a property through the Council’s waiting list can contact our Private Lettings Officer on 01285 623346 or email [email protected].