Latest figures suggest there are around 27,000 empty homes in Wales. Some of these properties could provide homes to people who need them.
Empty properties represent a wasted resource, financial expense and in many cases a missed opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing for people. Not only are they a waste of a valuable housing resource, but they can cause blight to communities and distress to residents affected by their unsightly appearance and tendency to attract crime, vandals and anti-social behaviour. In addition to this, they can devalue neighbouring properties and represent a huge cost to the Council, Police, Fire Authority and Community Safety Partnerships due to the time and resources spent in dealing with the problems that they create.
In Rhondda Cynon Taf there were 2894 privately owned empty homes as of April 2022 (counted in accordance with Welsh Government guidelines for PSR/004). This number does not include short term transitional empty homes. In 2021-22, 273 empty homes were bought back into use through enforcement action, grants, loans or advice.
Advice for Owners of Empty Homes
There are many options available to you:
Interest free loans are available through the Welsh 'Houses into Homes' Scheme. Borrow up to £25,000 per property (max £150,000 per applicant) to renovate your empty property for sale or rent. For further information and to request a Landlord Loan application pack, contact Housing Strategy on 01443 281136 or HousingStrategy@rctcbc.gov.uk. You may also visit the Welsh Government Houses into Homes Website.
Grants are available for residents who wish to renovate a long term empty property for their own occupation. Residents will have to live in the property for a minimum of 5 years or they will have to pay back the grant. See here for details.
If you need a builder, look for one that has been approved by an organisation like the Federation of Master Builders. Building works on an empty property are subject to reduced VAT of 5% or 0% depending on how long the property has been empty. See here for details.
If you can not afford the repair work, or it is difficult to organise (because you live a long way away for instance), you may want to think about selling to a builder or developer at a lower price.
You can sell through an estate agent, at an auction, or by advertising the property yourself. Get your property valued by a professional property surveyor or estate agent. Set an asking price, but decide how flexible you will be as potential buyers may try to negotiate the price. Be realistic with your asking price if the property requires a lot of renovation work.
The Empty Homes Officer holds a list of developers who would like to buy empty properties and can pass on your details if you wish.
If your home is ready to move into, you can rent it out. Typically a three bed property in RCT would attract a weekly rental income between £135 and £250. Renting through an agency can take out some of the hassle and responsibility, although you have to pay for the service. For information on becoming a landlord see Private Landlords Information and Advice.
SOCIAL LETTINGS AGENCY
The Authority runs a leasing scheme for landlords who can provide good quality housing in return for a monthly income. The property is leased for a minimum of 5 years and used to help those in housing need in addition to providing landlords with a full management service with rent guaranteed
Any queries regarding this scheme can be raised as follows:
By email: SocialHousingLettingAgency@rctcbc.gov.uk
By telephone: 01443 281490
In writing: Social Housing Letting agency, Sardis House, Sardis Road, Pontypridd, CF371DU.
What if you leave it empty?
You must keep your property and the land around it in good condition. It is advisable to make it look occupied to deter criminals and anti-social behaviour. We can advise you about selling, renting and refurbishing the property, but if the property becomes derelict or a nuisance to neighbours we can take legal action to make you put it right.
If we have to carry out emergency work and you do not pay the bill or you do not pay council tax we can even force the sale of your property. As of 1st April 2023, the Council is using its discretionary powers and will be introducing a Council Tax premium for long-term empty properties at 50% for homes empty between 1-2 years (50% rise from current level if it was occupied); and at 100% for homes empty for at least two years (100% rise from current level if it was occupied). This will come into effect from 1st April 2023. Clearly, it is not in your interest to keep your property long term unoccupied.
Advice for Neighbours and others interested in Empty properties
If you are trying to find out who owns an empty property details can be obtained from the public register at The Land Registry for Wales or contact 01792 355000.
If you would like to buy an empty property or wish to be contacted when someone wants to sell their empty property, please ring the office (details below) and give your details to the Empty Homes Officer.
For Further Information
If you have concerns in respect of an empty property or require further advice or information please use the contact information below.
Tel: 01443 425001
Fax: 01443 425301
Or by writing to:
Public Health and Protection
Dinas Isaf East