Advice about an empty property you own

Empty property you own - did you know?

An empty property costs its owner thousands of pounds a year in maintenance, utilities charges, lost rent, council tax bills and reduced value if it is deteriorating or in an area where house prices are falling. It can cost even more if it causes a problem to neighbours.

An empty property is an asset that is at risk, and could have the following problems:

  • increased insurance premiums or companies refusing cover
  • ongoing Council Tax payments
  • risk of squatters and legal fees to remove them
  • no rent
  • dilapidation whilst empty
  • increased risk of vandalism
  • increased risk of fire
  • boarding up costs
  • unnoticed leaks and damp penetration
  • ongoing security costs
  • ongoing neighbour complaints
  • the value of empty properties depreciates rapidly, and there is a huge demand for housing

See more about the cost of an empty home.

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So what are your options?

There are a number of options open to you, these include:

Sell it

You can sell through an estate agent, at an auction, or by advertising the property yourself.

Get your property valued by a professional property surveyor or estate agent.

Set an asking price, but decide how flexible you will be as potential buyers may try to negotiate the price.

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Rent it out

If your home is ready to move into, you can rent it out. You could do that yourself or use an agency.

Renting through an agency can take out some of the hassle and responsibility, although you have to pay for the service.

The Councils run a Private Sector Leasing scheme and a Managing Agent scheme if you don't want to actively manage the property (see the section below).

If you are confident in being a landlord we can help you find tenants through our 'Opening Doors scheme', and provide you with template legal documents, this is a free service.

See also: Opening Doors Letting Agency

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Renting out your property through Adur Homes
- Private Sector Leasing (PSL)

Adur Homes logo (145)

Adur District Council is looking to rent suitable properties in the Adur District, preferably two or three bedrooms, under its Private Sector Leasing scheme. Adur District Council would therefore be the tenant, and sub-let these properties to people they have a duty to accommodate.

If you are interested in renting out your property to Adur District Council, we will be more than happy to discuss this in detail with you. We would then arrange to view your property in order to determine its suitability and the rent we would be able to pay you.

Our Temporary Accommodation section can rent your property from you and use it to house local families whom the council has a duty to accommodate.

We can:

  • guarantee rent for the term of the let, typically two to three years (often renewable)
  • carry out small repairs
  • offer professional management
  • organise your insurance using our scheme
  • save you money on legal costs and agency fees

Once a legal agreement is set up, and Adur District Council becomes your tenant, as a landlord you can start to benefit from guaranteed rent (even if the property stands empty), property inspections carried out by our accommodation officers, minor repairs rectified and you will not be charged any additional management or agency fees.

If any larger repairs need to be carried out, Adur District Council will always contact you first before going ahead with the works. The Council will always give you the option for you to arrange for your contractor to carry out the work, or for us to go ahead and complete the work on your behalf.

As your tenant, we take on full responsibility for your property - if necessary we will make good any damage occurring to your property, with no cost or inconvenience to you. Similarly, you will never have to worry about payment of rent or potential problems you may expect as a landlord, as we take on all of the responsibility for resolving issues that may arise through privately leased properties.

For more details contact:

See also:

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Opening Doors Letting Agency

Run by Adur & Worthing Councils, Opening Doors Letting Agency is a free local residential letting service.

If you're a landlord looking to rent out your property, we will find you a suitable tenant, collect the rent and manage all the paperwork - all at no cost to you.


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Empty Property Assistance Programme

We may be able to help you fund the repairs to your empty property. We have a flexible financing programme to help with repairs and renovations up to £10,000. At the end of the process we will find a suitable tenant, collect the rent, and manage the tenancy. You will get a proportion of the rent money, and the length of the nomination period can be negotiated. At the end of the contract you will get the property back in a good condition.

We are also working with PHASES, a charity looking to purchase and repair empty homes. They are happy to consider properties in all conditions. They will purchase and then undertake the repair work, using the properties to train people in construction skills. The properties will then be let at an affordable rent to local people. For more information see:

The YMCA is offering a lease and repair grant in the Adur and Worthing area. The lease is negotiable ranging from 5 to 10 years. They will pay for and undertake any necessary works to bring the property up to a let able standard. The YMCA will manage the property and pay the owner a guaranteed rent throughout the lease period. For more information see:

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What if it needs a lot of work?

You may need to refurbish or repair the property before you can sell it or rent it out. Get the work done as soon as possible so you can start to recover the costs. If you need a builder, look for one approved by an organisation.

Some examples are:

Get more than one quote for the work, and get references from other people if you can.

There's a reduced VAT rate for the cost of renovating an empty property that's been empty for two years or more. You pay just five per cent instead of 20 per cent. The VAT rate is 0% if the property has been empty for over ten years, however you would need to sell the property once the renovations were complete.

For more information please see:

If you can't afford the work, or it's difficult to organise (because you live a long way away for instance), talk to us about how we can help you.

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What if you leave it empty?

By law you must keep your property and its surrounding land up to a minimum standard. Making it look occupied can help to deter criminals, antisocial behaviour and squatters.

We can advise you about selling, renting and refurbishing the property, but if the property becomes an eyesore, a nuisance to the local community, or remains empty for a long period we can take legal action to make you correct it. This could cost you even more money than leaving it empty.


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The cost of leaving your property empty

Leaving your property empty could be losing you more than you think. On average in Adur and Worthing it's over £9,000 a year! And it may cost you even more if you have to repair damage caused by vandalism or break-in.

Outgoings: Your empty property will be costing you:

  • around £1,000 to £3,500 in Council Tax (100%) - see:
  • utilities standing charges
  • minimum insurance (where obtainable)
  • maintenance, damage and repairs

Loss of value: The biggest factor is that the value of empty properties depreciates by over £7,000 a year.

Rent earnings: Now add the rent you could be earning if someone lived in it, based on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rents, see:

You can see that bringing an empty property back into use is not only good for the increasing the local housing supply and the surrounding community, it's good for your pocket too.

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Page last updated: 05 May 2023

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