As the owners of an empty property, it can be daunting trying to work out the best course of action. Whether it’s empty between tenants, or the property is currently uninhabitable and in need of repair, understanding what you can do to manage the building can set you on the right path. From renovations to renting it out or even moving in yourself following some improvements, there are a number of things you can do with an empty property. We’ve compiled a few to get you started.
The Risks Of An Empty Property
First things first, it’s important to understand the risks around having an empty property, and how they might affect what you do with the building next. From financial losses such as ongoing council tax and potential loss of property value, to vandalism, squatters and structural damage, holding on to an empty property without any plans for its use could prove problematic. Risks to be aware of include:
- Squatters – Squatters that find their way into your property may ultimately cost you money in legal fees for their removal.
- Vandalism – There’s very little that’s more tempting to vandals than empty properties, where they believe they can get away with graffiti, defacing the property and in some cases, even arson.
- Council Tax – Council tax is constantly rising and if you own a property that is not in use, you might find that it chips away at your income more and more over time. Councils can and often do charge an additional tax on properties that have been vacant for extended periods of time (over 24 months).
- Loss Of Value – Your property, if not kept up and maintained while empty, could lose value over time.
- Insurance Issues – Some insurers may not want to insure the property under standard buildings insurance if it is left empty. Specialist empty property policies do exist for protection (terms and conditions apply).
- Structural Damage – Structural damage is a risk even when tenants are present in the property, however buildings that are left empty run the risk of leaks that aren’t caught in time, damp, mould, fungi and other negligence-caused issues.
Protecting Your Empty Property
If your property is going to be empty for a while, either because you are between tenancies or because work needs to be done to the property which requires it to be empty for some time, you can protect the property and yourself by opting for Empty Property Insurance. Landlord insurance for empty properties offers similar cover to a standard tenancy insurance, however is designed according to the different requirements and budget you may have due to the lack of tenants.
An insurance property may, and often includes Buildings insurance, Contents insurance, Public Liability, Malicious Damage and any legal expenses that may occur in the case of a claim. It can protect you against damage or theft to or from the property, as well as the contents that you leave within the property (e.g. furniture, appliances).
If you’re sitting on an empty property that isn’t quite ready for tenants just yet and your budget allows it, renovating could be an ideal way to bring in higher-brow tenants in the long run. If your empty property is looking a little run down and in need of some TLC, taking out an empty property insurance and setting off on renovations could prove fruitful in the end, whether you choose to rent it out, sell on or moving in yourself. This is particularly wise if renovations would considerably increase the value of the property, or in cases where it may not be inhabitable otherwise.
Before making a decision on whether to renovate, however, you should consider not only the necessity of renovations but whether or not you can afford them. Your budget, the scope of the renovations needed and whether or not the payback will be worth the money you put into it at the start. In some cases, you could put thousands into renovations, but struggle to make the money back in rent payments.
Renting It Out
Whether your property will only be empty for a set amount of time, or you’re looking for a long-term investment, renting out your empty property could be a good way to make the most of its value. If you’re travelling for a while, or are living elsewhere, renting out your property to tenants not only offers you an income but offers someone in need of a home somewhere to live.
You will need to consider your legal obligations as a landlord, including making the property safe and appropriate to live in. The property must meet certain safety standards, be free of health hazards, all gas and electrical equipment must be maintained and safely installed, fire and carbon monoxide alarms must be maintained, an energy performance certificate must be provided and you need to do checks to ensure that the tenant has the right to rent here in the UK. You’ll also need to provide government-approved protection for the tenant’s deposit and provide the ‘how to rent’ checklist to any new tenants.
You can find all of the responsibilities you will hold as a landlord on the government website.
Selling Your Empty Property
If you’ve had an empty property for some time and you aren’t sure you can dedicate the time needed for renting it out or renovating it, you could opt to put it on the market. There are a number of different ways you can handle the selling of your property depending on the condition it is currently in and how quickly you need the sale. Options for sale include:
- Estate Agents – An estate agent is one of the most common ways to sell a property, however, it’s worth noting that it can be a long wait and that you’ll need to ensure you’re opting for reputable agents.
- Private Sales – Private house sales can be a great way to sell the property if you have the patience and time to dedicate to the work it may take. You can often get better prices, more control over the sale itself and you won’t have to pay fees to an agent, but it takes a lot of work and can be stressful.
- Auctions – Auctions are an option for any property, including those that need renovations that you might not be able to afford to pay for. However, auctions aren’t a guarantee, and the reserve price may be lower than you hope. However, this can be useful for properties in a non-perfect condition.
- Home-Buying Company – Home buying companies are often the quickest way to sell a property. They operate in similar ways to car-buying services, in which they will value your home and offer you a price according to that value. Turnaround can be as little as a week in some cases, but you may compromise on the price for the benefit of speed.
If you have an empty property, ensuring that you have it covered and protected with a good insurance policy will help to protect you financially as you look to sell, rent or renovate the property. Get in touch with a member of the team at Ashburnham Insurance for advice or a quote today.