Incentives to bring empty homes back into use

Empty Homes Loan

The purpose of the Empty Homes Loan is to provide funds to ensure landlords undertake work to bring a property back in to use. The loans are not available to fund the purchase of a property or a HMO conversion.

The loans are available in the current Selective Licensing Areas for properties empty a minimum of 6 months and are for a maximum of £25,000, interest free, repayable over a maximum 12-year period. Outside of the Selective Licensing Areas, the loans are for a maximum of £20,000, interest free and repayable over a maximum 10-year period. The property must have been empty for 2 years or more.

The majority of loans provided require either Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval. When the Empty Homes Team receive the quotes for the works, evidence of an application for one or both of these must be provided before the loan is approved. In the case of a Building Control application, this would preferably be in the form of a full plan application. Costs for these applications can be covered by the loan

A landlord will be eligible for a loan if they are:

  • Accredited through the Good Landlord and Agent Scheme (GLAS) or;
  • Working Towards Accreditation
  • Licensed through the Council’s Selective Licensing or Mandatory Licensing schemes

This criterion will ensure that re-occupied properties are managed satisfactorily, thoroughly referencing tenants and ensuring that any breaches of tenancy agreements are addressed.

In addition, the Landlord’s property must:

  • Require remedial works or requiring works necessary to bring the property up to Decent Home standards including the provision of energy efficiency works and
  • Not been included in a future clearance programme subject to an Executive decision or is in a confirmed clearance area will not be eligible for a loan

The landlord will be required to repay the loan on a monthly basis by direct debit.

The repayments will be recycled back into the Housing Capital Investment Programme for future intervention to long term empty homes.

No incentive will be awarded to an applicant with a history of non-compliance with the Council, or who has outstanding/unresolved repairs or complaints under housing or other related legislation. No incentive will be awarded to an applicant who has Council Tax debt or any outstanding recharge or fees unless an agreement is in place to clear the debt, recharge or fees.

No incentive will be awarded to an applicant who has failed to apply for a license for properties within their portfolio located in an area designated for Selective Licensing.

Selective Licencing fee payment

As the Empty Homes Loan is only available to qualifying landlords in a Selective Licencing Area, we will pay the licencing fee for that qualifying property. To qualify for Selective Licencing fee payment a qualifying landlord must:

  • acquire a property on or after the 1st of January 2017 that has been vacant for 12 months or more
  • renovate the property to the GLAS Gold Standard (see the Code of Practice available in the downloads section)
  • complete the works within 6 months of Council acceptance on the scheme

Council Tax Discount

We are offering an extra incentive for owners by awarding a 100% local discount for up to six months, once renovation works have been completed on former uninhabitable or long-term empty properties (vacant 12 months or more), and the works have brought the property up to the Gold Accreditation Standard.

The scheme will operate retrospectively, so the discount is awarded once the works are completed, an inspection has been made and the property is occupied. The Council Tax that has been paid throughout the renovation period will then be refunded to the owner.

Participation in the scheme is conditional upon there being no Council Tax arrears or debt owed to Burnley Council. Where the applicant has multiple properties, all accounts for each property must be paid up to date, not just those affecting the relevant property.

To be eligible for this new local Council Tax discount, the property must be in a certain state of disrepair and include significant category 1 Hazards as defined by the Housing Act 2004:

  • have been vacant for a minimum period of 12 months (not lived in)
  • be unfurnished
  • be undergoing renovation works that will achieve the Council’s Gold Accreditation Standard and be completed with the property occupied within a timeframe of 6 months

A copy of the Empty Home Loan Policy can be downloaded from this page and is also available for inspection at the Council’s office.

Refurbishing properties 

We refurbish properties, including a number of properties being remodelled (i.e. two in to one).

Partnership work

Housing work closely with several other units across the Council to tackle the problems associated with empty homes e.g. anti-social behaviour, crime and fly-tipping.