What is an empty home?
An empty home is a residential dwelling that has been empty for six months or more. There can be several reasons why a property is empty and Bridgend Council is committed to working with owners to find solutions to bring empty homes back into use.
Why bring an empty home back into use?
By bringing an empty home back into use it can:
- Increase the supply of good quality affordable housing;
- Contribute to strong balanced housing markets and community sustainability;
- Give owners’ choice by improving sales potential or providing rental income rather than allowing properties to become wasted assets;
- Reduce the risk of vandalism, arson or squatting and the fear of crime;
- Enhance the viability and vitality of town centres by bringing empty flats above shops back into use.
How can an empty home be brought back into use?
An empty home can be brought back into use by:
Applying for an Empty Homes Grant
The Empty Homes Grant forms part of the Authority’s overall approach to tackling empty properties in the Borough and will assist in increasing the supply of affordable rented accommodation. The Authority will determine the works necessary to bring a property back into use, in consultation with the Public Protection Department.
The maximum grant amount is £15,000 or 75% of the eligible costs, whichever is the lesser amount. It will include all costs for eligible works, specialist reports and preliminary and ancillary charges. Works must not have commenced before the application is approved, and must be completed within 6 months of the approval.
Applying for a “Houses into Homes” recyclable loan
The Welsh Government launched a new scheme, “Houses into Homes”, in February 2012. There is a fund for councils in Wales to offer loans to owners of empty homes to bring them back into use, either by renting or selling the property. Work to convert empty buildings into residential accommodation will also be eligible under the scheme.
Loans will be available on an interest-free basis for up to three years, depending on the scheme, up to a maximum of around £25,000 per property (or £150,000 for multiple units in one building). There will be some administration and legal costs to an owner in setting up a loan and the valuation of the property and any existing borrowing against it will also be taken into consideration.
Applying for a “Homes in Town” Grant
This grant is designed to encourage town centre living in the County Borough. The Homes in Towns Grant (HIT) forms part of the Authority’s overall approach to tackling vacant space in the town centres of the Borough, to breathe life and vitality back into the town centre areas and to increase the supply of affordable accommodation in key hubs of the Borough.
The maximum grant amount is 85% of the cost, up to a maximum of £10,000, to create a separate access (if one is not already present) to the residential premises (or £150,000 for multiple units in one building); and 60% of the cost, up to a maximum of £30,000 per unit of accommodation, for the conversion of vacant space into a residential unit (or £150,000 for multiple units in one building).
Renting your property
Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, there are new legal obligations on landlords who have rental property in Wales. Rent Smart Wales process landlord registrations and grant licences to landlords and agents who need to comply with the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
Selling or auctioning your property
There are a number of estate agents that operate in Bridgend County Borough. Further details can be found on the Property News website. Some estate agents also auction properties.
Where an empty home is particularly problematic and owners are not compliant and all negotiations have failed, the Local Authority will consider taking appropriate enforcement action to ensure that the empty home is returned to a habitable condition and bought back into use. Enforcement actions may include empty dwelling management orders, enforced sale, compulsory purchase orders or voluntary acquisition.
Who can I contact if I have any queries?
Further information can be found in Bridgend County Borough Council's Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy.
If you have any queries regarding your empty home or would like an Empty Homes Information Pack, please contact 01656 643521, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can write to Housing and Community Regeneration, Civic Offices, Angel Street, Bridgend, CF31 4WB.