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What are the costs involved in holding a vacant property?

Empty Homes released a report in 2015 which shows how many empty properties there are in the UK. This study revealed that there were over 600,000 empty homes in the UK at this time.

Local authorities employ empty property officers whose job it is to try and revacate properties and find a suitable use for them. It is often the case, however, that landlords and property owners are not completely aware of the costs and expenses that come with holding an empty property.

This guide aims to show you, the landlord, what costs are actually involved in holding an empty property and outlines some of the many disadvantages that can come with holding a vacant property for a long period of time. We have covered some of the key talking points and provided expert advice and guidance, alongside some reports and statistics that have been released over the past 3 years.

Council tax on empty properties

It is now more expensive than ever to hold a vacant property, and council tax is one of the biggest factors that adds to this expense.

Council tax bands are very much outdated and not relative to current market values. This means that you could be paying the same amount of council tax for a house or flat in Derby as a flat or house in Chelsea.

Properties that have been left unoccupied and unfurnished for over two years may be charged up to 150% of the normal Council Tax. This is an excessive cost that will only add up with other issues when holding a vacant property. Previously properties unoccupied were exempt from Council Tax however new legislation has ramped the price up and passed the cost to you, the landlord.

Vacant property insurance

It is, like any property an expensive possession, important to ensure that your vacant property or empty house is insured.

Most insurers have a clause in the policy that if the property is vacant for 30 days then the insurance is void. Therefore, it can be a lot harder to get your vacant property insured and there are less insurance companies to choose from.

Once you do find an insurer that will insure your vacant property, there are a lot of other conditions that you must abide by. It is common that the below are included in the terms and conditions of the insurance policy:

Insurance will go up and will reduce the limit who you can get insurance from. Some people would be naive to it but you could be liable if there is a fire on the road. You may not just be liable for the property, but negligent on a criminal basis as well.

Maintaining a vacant property

As with any property, there are a lot of costs that perhaps you do not always consider in the first instance but will crop up later and cause you to pay more than you had anticipated.

On top of utility bills, garden maintenance, and security checks, you also have to consider the amount of people that may be walking through the house or flat. 5 viewings in a day could cause a brand new carpet to no longer look brand new. Maintaining the cleanliness and clean look of a property is crucial for any landlord when selling a vacant house.

We have listed some different, common areas that require maintenance, and the predicted costs that these may have.

Maintaining the garden

Info: To find a good gardener takes time and money, even more if fly tippers have been
Frequency: monthly
Cost: £30 - 40 per visit

Cleaning

Info: You will need to find a trustworthy cleaner who is also affordable.
Frequency: monthly
Cost: £30 - 40 per visit

Utility bills

Info: You will need to send someone to check on the property a lot and you may have to pay a standing charge on the metre.
Frequency: weekly / monthly
Cost: £56 a month - as well as someone to visit the property regularly!

Emergency repairs on an empty house

As well as the general maintenance costs, there are also emergency repairs that you will need to keep in mind when holding a vacant property. There isn’t a single list or type of scenario that can summarise this. However, there can be many scenarios that mean you will have to pay unexpected emergency costs.

It is not uncommon for vacant properties to be victim to vandalism, theft and flytipping. This is something we often see and have first hand experiencing with at Open Property Group. Once you sell your house to us we will deal with the rest and any unexpected costs, such as vandalism, fly tipping, or emergency repairs, will be our problem and not yours.

If you are selling a vacant property with an estate agents and you have ‘for sale’ boards outside of the house, there may be targeted vandalism. We experienced this recently in December 2017 and had to pay over £100 for boarding up the property and replacing the plumbing.

Emotional costs

As a professional house buying company and buyers of probate property, we have seen time and time again the emotional distress that can come with keeping and holding a vacant property.

This can be particularly apparent if you have inherited a property in a town or city that is far away from your current home, which can often be the case with the inheritance of unexpected property. For example, if you received a probate property in Blackpool and you live in Brighton the inconvenience that this can bring would mean that selling the property as soon as possible would relieve this burden.

Not only this, but dealing with estate agents can cause a lot of emotional stress too. It may not always be possible to be present when needed as you may have to fit dealing with a vacant property on top of your normal day job.

How do I sell my vacant property?

If you have decided to sell your vacant property or are considering selling it then we can help you. By selling you’re going to mitigate all of the expenses we’ve discussed with a streamlined property sale with a moving date decided by you.

You’ve got certainty, instead of the stress of waiting, maintaining and upkeeping the property.

Advantages of selling a vacant property to a professional house buyer like Open Property Group:

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