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Empty homes

An empty property is a wasted resource both for the owner of the property and those in need of housing.

Properties which are left vacant for extended periods of time can cause problems for the local environment, the surrounding community and attract anti-social behaviour.

What we can do to help

The council offers FREE help and advice to owners of empty properties and will assist owners in bringing the property back into use. An interest free loan is also available subject to availability. Conditions apply. Please use the contact email to find out more about the help we can offer and read the factsheets below.

Read our case study below to find out how the scheme works in practice.

Tax Relief

VAT relief may apply for certain renovation costs associated with bringing a property back into use. If a property has been empty for 2 years or more the standard rate of VAT is reduced down to 5% on renovations. Homes empty for 10 or more years can apply 0% VAT for materials used in renovation works. Please contact the Empty Homes Officer using the contact email, if you require a letter to state how long the property has been unoccupied. There are also other exemptions with regard to VAT, such as properties which are listed. It is worth looking on the HMRC website to find out more.

Stroud District Council is committed to helping bring empty homes back into use as local homes.  The Private Sector Housing Renewal Team work with property owners and their families to ensure that when a home is left empty it is still a valuable asset to its owners, bringing in an income rather than draining resources.   Council Tax for example, increases progressively for empty homes up to a maximum 300%, if the property remains empty for more than 5 years.

This case study is about a property which had been a much loved home for over 40 years, but when age and ill health made independent living impossible the home owner moved into a local care home. The family then had an empty property to worry about with the stress of looking after the house and garden and they were concerned about the possibility of break-ins or vandalism.  Selling it wasn’t an option either whilst the owner was hoping one day he may be well enough to return.  After 40 years of occupancy the property was also understandably dated and didn’t meet current rental standards.

The family contacted Stroud District Council to see if they could get any help with renovating the property so that it could be lived in again. An officer from the Council was able to assist with advice and information and offered an interest free loan of up to £15, 000 to help modernise the property to a decent standard.  In exchange, the Council required that the property should be let at an affordable local rent. 

Eventually the house will need to be sold to help cover the costs of care home fees and Stroud Council will recoup the empty homes loan.  However, the rental income in the meantime will help reduce the overall debt which is accruing.  

Many families find themselves in this position when a relative goes into care owning a property.  If keeping their home is important then improvement works with a view to letting it could be a good option instead of leaving the property empty with the potential for problems to occur and costs to rise.

The Council’s housing team can help in other ways too.  They can offer a package of support for landlords who work with the Council to help find secure affordable homes for local people who are eligible for support. The package of benefits includes: the first month’s rent up front and deposit, a check-in inspection, preparation of signed inventory, regular tenancy checks, and a year’s membership of the Residential National Landlords Association. 

If you would like to explore these options for a property you are looking after, please email the councils’ empty property officer or visit our information pages on the SDC website.   

Before1 before 2
After 1 After 2


This is what the empty home owner had to say when the work was completed:

 ‘Thank you for your help. I hope that more people in the community might consider trying it too .... it’s not the easiest thing they will ever do, but it does feel worthwhile. I can’t tell you how glad we are that the work is done! The property felt like a millstone around our necks’

The factsheets below offer guidance for empty property owners on managing their properties during vacancy and outline actions the Council may take for prolonged emptiness.

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