The amount of long-term unfurnished empty properties in Teignbridge stood at 385, a reduction of 156 since the same time four years ago.
The figures have been released during National Empty Homes Week which is aimed at highlighting the waste of empty property nationwide and to celebrate the success of numerous examples and new initiatives to bring empty homes back into use.
Properties become empty for a variety of reasons, including owners moving into nursing homes or other properties going into probate. In most cases owners of empty properties do not want to leave them unoccupied as invariably they are a drain on their resources in terms of unwanted bills for repairs, Council Tax, insurance, utilities and lost rental income.
The vast majority of remaining empty properties are actively being marketed for sale or let, or are in the process of being refurbished for reoccupation.
In recent years, Teignbridge has seen an increase in the number of enquiries from owners who are considering letting properties while waiting for the housing market to improve. Most enquiries are from incidental owners and inexperienced landlords.
To help, Teignbridge has established popular landlord training courses which cover setting up and managing a tenancy and the legalities of it. The next landlord training course is on Thursday 13 February 2014 and is open to existing and new Teignbridge landlords.
Teignbridge also offers a range of help, advice and financial assistance to those who have an empty property or are struggling to know where to get help. If properties remain unoccupied due to a lack of funds for refurbishment works or difficulty letting, loan assistance is available through the National Empty Homes Loan fund.
Landlords who would like to access these funds are not charged valuation and admin fees if referrals are made through Teignbridge District Council.
Small grants may also be to help with making properties ready for reoccupation. Landlords can also ask about a free tenant finding scheme which is run by Teignbridge through its partners Plymouth Access to Housing.
On occasions properties are simply neglected, which can encourage issues like anti social behaviour, they quickly fall into disrepair and gardens become overgrown causing a nuisance to neighbouring residents and affecting the value of neighbouring properties. This can sometimes result in enforcement action – although this is usually a last resort.
Teignbridge District Council’s executive spokesperson for Planning and Housing Cllr Philip Vogel said: “It is good to see that our work to tackle empty homes is having a really positive effect on our communities. Teignbridge consults with all owners of empty properties to find out what it can do to encourage their reuse and owners’ responses help assist in prioritising cases.
“There are lots of reasons why properties become empty and that is why we offer lots of help, assistance, advice and financial help to bring homes back into use.
“We’ve had some real success stories recently. We helped one vulnerable owner who inherited seven properties, some of which had been unoccupied for 13 years, find an architect and refurbish the units. Four have been refurbished, sold and reoccupied, two are on the market for sale and planning permission is being sought for the seventh.
“We have also matched a disabled couple to an empty property and installed hoisting and improve access with a disabled facilities grant.
“This means more homes become available for people to live in. We will continue to work to reduce the numbers further. Not only can reinstating properties help improve the appearance of our community, but by reducing the associated anti-social behaviour issues it can also boost the quality of life of local residents too.”
Anyone who would like more information about any of the above or are concerned about an empty property, can report it online at www.teignbridge.gov.uk/emptyhomes (anonymously if preferred) by phone on 01626 215425, by post or in person at Teignbridge Council, Forde House, Newton Abbot, TQ12 4XX.
(from a press release)
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