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Empty Homes

An empty home costs its owner thousands of pounds in maintenance, utilities charges, lost rent, council tax bills and reduced value if it is in an area where prices are falling.

The Private Sector Housing Policy Framework sets out the Council's broad approach to its support for and work with private sector housing which includes empty homes. See Related documents below.

If you have received a letter from Boston Borough Council regarding an empty property, you can complete the questionnaire online here: Empty Homes Questionnaire

What if you leave it empty?

Owners must keep their property and the land around it in a good condition. They should make it look occupied to deter criminals and anti-social behaviour. We can advise about selling, renting and refurbishing the property, but if the property becomes an eyesore or a nuisance to neighbours we may take legal action to make the owner put it right. More details on the action we may take are below.

What options do you have to bring a property back into use?

Boston Borough Council Empty Home Loan

Boston Borough Council may be able to offer an Empty Home loan to assist owners to return their property back into use, with a loan of up to £6000, subject to assessment. For details contact the Housing Strategy team.

What if it needs a lot of work?

An owner may need to refurbish or repair the property before they can sell it or rent it out. Getting the work done as soon as possible means that the owner can start to recover the costs from the sale proceeds or rental income.

There's a reduced VAT rate for the cost of renovating an empty property that's been empty for two years or more. Instead of 20% the VAT is just 5%. See the HMRC website.

If the owner can't afford the work, or it's difficult to organise (for example, because they don't live locally), they could think about selling to a builder or developer at a lower price.

Sell it

The property can be sold through an estate agent, at an auction, or by the owner advertising the property themselves. The property should be valued by a professional property surveyor or estate agent and then an asking price should be set, but the owner needs to decide how flexible they will be as potential buyers may try to negotiate the price.

Rent it out

If the property meets current standards and regulations, it may be ready to move into straight away so it could be rented out immediately. Owners can choose to let the property themselves or use a letting agency. Renting through an agency can take out some of the hassle and responsibility, although there would be a fee to pay for the service. For more information on the responsibilities of a landlord, see Advice for Landlords page in Related articles.

How we tackle problem empty homes

A homeowner must keep their property and land around it up to a minimum standard. If they don't, we may send them a legal notice that instructs them to put things right.

Enforced Sale - If a homeowner does not act, we may do the work ourselves and give them the bill. If they refuse to pay, we can put a charge on the property. The owner would find it hard to sell the home because a buyer would become responsible for that charge. If they still don't take responsibility we may force the sale of the property at a public auction and deduct all our costs and charges from the sale price.

This can also apply should the owner of a problem empty property have a large unpaid council tax bill - we can ask a court to give us permission to sell the property. We can recover all the council tax, and our own costs from the sale price.

Empty Dwelling Management Order - If the property has been empty for two years or more we may take over the management and rent it out for up to seven years. The owner only gets income from the rent after we recover our costs and the regular cost of managing the property.

Compulsory Purchase - Sometimes a property is causing such severe problems that it is 'blighting' an area. We may buy it from the owner even if they don't want to sell. We will either demolish it or to sell it on to a not-for-profit landlord to bring it back to use.

 More information is available in the Private Sector Housing Policy Framework in Related documents.

Report a problem empty home

Empty homes bring down an area and threaten the health of the local community.  If a privately-owned home is causing problems like this, report it to us now:

Phone: 01205 314329

Contact us online: housing.dept@boston.gov.uk

Write to:

Private Sector Housing
Boston Borough Council
Municipal Buildings
West Street
Boston
Lincolnshire
PE21 8QR

Related documents

Size Name
[1Mb] Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2018 Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2018
[3Mb] Delegation of Decisions - Authorisations for Private Sector Housing Delegation of decisions

The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.