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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 dwellings will be empty for a short time because of the normal operation of the housing market, but if your property remains empty for 6 months you are likely to be asked prove that you have matters in hand to return it to use in an acceptable time frame to the Council..
If your property remains empty for 2 years you will be required to pay a levy charge of 50%, raising the total Council Tax to pay on your empty property to 150%. If you are in the process of renovating a property that has been empty for 2 years or more then we may consider suspending the levy charge to help you retain your funds to carry out necessary works to make it ready to be reoccupied. For more information about Council Tax charges and discounts call the Council Tax team on 739478 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Properties undergoing renovation that have been empty for 2-years or more (before works are started) may be eligible for a reduction in VAT if they are only to be used for residential purposes and a VAT registered builder is being used to carry out the works. Properties empty for 10 years or more before undergoing renovation may not need to pay VAT at all if they are to be occupied by family members. Full details of the VAT charges for empty property are contained in HMRC Notice 708, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-708-buildings-and-construction
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.