Empty homes cause problems and can attract vandals or become overgrown and filled with rubbish. If this happens, they soon become an eyesore and can affect the value of surrounding properties, becoming a safety risk to children. Local indicators suggest there are currently 933 long-term, vacant properties in St Helens.
What are we doing about it?
In 2003, we introduced our first empty property strategy to target long-term and problematic vacant properties with the appointment of a dedicated Empty Property Officer. To date, a total of 1,047 vacant properties have been demolished or brought back into use (December 2019 data).
We have an Empty Homes Strategy, which provides a range of tools available for action to be taken in respect of long-term, privately owned, vacant properties. You can find our strategy below.
Preventative and enforcement toolkits
Wherever possible, we try to prevent properties being left vacant in the long term by providing informal advice and assistance in cases where owners are not sure of their rights and responsibilities.
We aim to bring empty properties back to use by a process of negotiation and support. However, in severe cases where the owner refuses to meet their responsibilities, formal intervention may be necessary.
This intervention can take several forms, from the serving of statutory notices to deal with immediate issues such as rubbish and dangerous structures, to the use of Compulsory Purchase, Enforced Sale and Empty Dwelling Management Order.
To date, under this initiative, we have successfully compulsory purchased seven properties.
- Are you refurbishing a property that has been empty for two years?
- Will it be used for residential purposes once renovations are complete?
- Is a builder completing the work?
Then you may be eligible for a reduced rate of VAT (currently 5%) on the works of repair, maintenance or improvement. Read more information on VAT reductions.
What should you do if a vacant property near you is causing concern?
Worried about an empty property?
Let us know - just complete our easy to use form, providing as much information as possible as to the location of the problem.
Once received, we will assign to the relevant team to investigate