Lewisham Council - We’re taking action to tackle empty homes

We’re taking action to tackle empty homes

Published on 24 January 2019

From April this year we are going to charge private properties that have been empty for two years or more double the amount of council tax.

We’re doing this to encourage property owners to open up their empty homes to tenants.

Double the basic amount is currently the highest council tax it is legally allowed to on empty private homes. We’ll increase the charge to treble the amount in April 2020 if national legislation allows.

At the last count there were 374 properties in the borough that have been empty for two years or more. Our calculations show that by doubling the council tax on these homes, we would raise an additional £458,418 in 2019–20.

Further increases

If Government allows further increases, trebling council tax on empty private homes in 2020–21 would raise something in the region of £917,000 for local services. We would raise the levy further in 2021–22 to an extra 300% or four times the basic amount.

Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing, said, ‘Ideally we would like these properties brought back into use instead of laying empty while families struggle to find affordable homes in the borough.

‘We will be doing everything possible to bring empty homes back into use. We are sending a very clear message that with the housing crisis and people facing being forced out of their homes, society cannot accept long-term empty properties.’

Grants and loans

We provide grants and loans to help homeowners refurbish empty properties, and we can also assist owners with 15% of the project costs to survey properties, put works out to tender to approved contractors and supervise the works. To get grant or loan assistance you must:

  • be the owner of the property for at least five years
  • be intending to return the property to someone who is not a member of their family
  • not have had a grant previously.

To qualify the property:

  • must have been empty for at least six months
  • must be intended for occupation as a single family house or as self-contained flats/maisonettes with no shared facilities
  • can’t be a studio flat unless there are no reasonable alternatives regarding structure and layout of the property.

Help is available to bring properties up to standard and the grant will cover 50% of the work up to a maximum of £15,000 per unit (for studios the maximum is £7,000) to a maximum of £50,000 per house.

For more information about grants email housingassistance@lewisham.gov.uk or call 020 8314 6622.



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