Date published: 3rd October 2022

North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet has agreed to create an Empty Homes and Revenues Generation Officer (working job title) post within the Council to help tackle the number of empty homes within the district.

This Officer post will ensure that empty homes are identified and charged the correct rate of Council Tax. The officer will also work with the owners to bring these houses back into use. 

It is hoped that this work may identify some empty homes that have not been declared as such (for example, homes that are recorded as second/holiday homes but are not used) and therefore are not charged the full Council Tax rate that they should be charged. 

The number of new homes being built in the district is falling – primarily because of Nutrient Neutrality requirements – but the number of people in need of housing is rising. This means it is even more essential to make the best use of all the district’s existing homes, including empty ones.

There are many reasons why there are empty homes in the district and there will always be some empty homes (for example, between periods of occupation when maintenance works are being carried out). But in most cases, the owners plan to bring these properties back into use and they are occupied again quickly.

The Council is concentrating on the homes that are empty for longer periods of time, with a focus on the 500+ that have been empty for six months or more in the district.

To combat this issue, the Council contacts owners of the empty homes and works with them to find ways to bring these homes back into use.

Empty homes receive a full Council Tax charge from day one, there is no discount and a levy charge is placed onto the property if it remains empty for more than two years. If the property remains empty for two years, the charge is doubled. If a property is empty for five years or more, the charge is increased to 300%; if a property has been empty for ten years or more, a 400% charge is applied.

These fees help to deter residents from keeping their homes empty for a long-term period.

Currently, in the district, 556 homes have been empty for six months or more, of which only 87 have been empty for over two years, 39 have been empty for five years or more and only nine properties have been empty for over ten years.

Another action agreed by Cabinet is to make some grants available to help owners carry out repairs to empty properties and bring them back into use. These grants will stipulate that owners lease their property to the Council to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless families.

Cllr. Wendy Fredericks, portfolio holder for Housing and Benefits, said:

“Housing need is a real issue in North Norfolk, so it is important we make the most of all homes in the district – and a way to bring empty properties back into use and provide homes for homeless families is a win-win.

“If you are an owner of an empty property and think you could work with the council to bring it back into use, please get in touch”.

Last updated: 12th April 2023