We have an ambition that everyone in North Norfolk should have the opportunity to buy or rent a decent home at a price they can afford, in a community where they want to live and work. To achieve this, it is important that housing resources are used to the greatest effect and long-term empty houses are a barrier to achieving this.
We will support owners who share our ambition by providing information, advice, and assistance to help them take decisive action but we will look to penalise owners who leave their properties empty for no good reason.
Council Tax and VAT
We recognise that some properties will be empty for a short time because of the normal housing market operation. However, if your property remains empty for six months, you will have to prove that you will return it to use in an acceptable time frame to the Council.
If your property remains empty for two years, you will be required to pay a levy charge of 100%, raising the total Council Tax to pay to 200%.
Renovations and empty homes
If you are renovating a property that has been empty for two years or more, we may consider suspending the levy charge, so you can retain your funds to carry out necessary works to make it ready to be reoccupied.
Properties undergoing a renovation that has been empty for two years or more (before works are started) may be eligible for a reduction in VAT. However, only if they are used for residential purposes and a VAT registered builder is used to carry out the works. Properties empty for ten years or more before undergoing renovation may not need to pay VAT if they are to be occupied by family members. The VAT charges for an empty property are in HMRC Notice 708.
For more information about Council Tax charges and discounts, contact the Council Tax team on 01263 739478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where an owner is voluntarily working with us to bring their empty property back into use in acceptable timescales, we will not generally use our enforcement powers without overriding reasons to the contrary.
Where owners ignore the help we offer and continue to leave properties empty, we will consider whether enforcement action is appropriate to secure the re-use of the property.
Council Enforcement Powers
- Buildings Act 1984 sections 77 to 79 - allows the Council to require an owner to make their property safe, carry out works of repair or demolition or, if the owner fails to carry out the works required, or in an emergency, for the Council to carry out works in place of the owner. Housing Act 1985 section 265 - this allows the council to demolish a property if it cannot be repaired.
- Housing Act 2004 - allows the Council to serve notices to advice of hazards in the property, require works of improvement to be carried out to the property, or carry out works in default.
- Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 section 29 - allows the Council to require that the owner secures a property which is insecure as well as allowing the Council to secure an insecure property in an emergency.
- Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 - allows the Council to require works or undertake works on behalf of an owner or occupier to prevent damage to buildings caused by rats and mice (can include works to property or gardens).
- Public Health Act 1936 - allows the Local Authority to require and undertake works on behalf of an owner or occupier to improve filthy and verminous properties.
- Town and Country Planning Act 1990 section 215 - this allows the Council to take action to require the owner to improve the appearance of an unsightly building or land (including gardens).
- Housing Act 2004 section 132: enables the Council to take control of and manage a property that has been empty for 2 years or more by way of an Empty Dwelling Management Order.
- The Housing Act 1985 section 17 - allows the Council to apply to the Secretary of State to compulsorily purchase empty homes to bring them into use where there is a proven housing need.
- In some cases the Council may force the sale of an empty home:
- When the Council is owed at least £1000 on matters relating to the property and a charging order has been unsuccessful in recovering the debt.
- When the Council has carried out works in default and the owner has not reimbursed the Council’s costs.
- The use of powers to enter into an Empty Dwelling Management Order or to apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order will only be used when other attempts to encourage the owner of an empty home to voluntarily return the property into use has been unsuccessful.
The Council reserves the right to use any other powers, which are appropriate in order to bring an empty home back into use.