Advice for letting agents and landlords

Empty homes

Empty properties are a wasted resource, they cost money to tax and maintain and represent a considerable amount of lost rental income. There are various schemes and grants available to owners of empty properties to encourage them to return these to use.

  • Tenants and management
  • Short life housing
  • VAT reductions
  • Flats over shops
  • Empty Homes Agency

Short life housing

If you have a property that is awaiting development or investment you might want to consider short life as an alternative way of using the property. This will provide tenants to occupy the property for a short length of time (not less than six months) and will guarantee vacant possession at short notice. The advantage of having short life tenants in a property is that they will deter squatters and vandalism and will undertake basic repairs and maintenance to ensure that the fabric of the building remains intact.

VAT reductions

If your property has been empty for two years or over you will be able to claim a VAT reduction on the cost of refurbishment. VAT will be charged at a rate of five per cent instead of 20 per cent, renovation works to properties empty for over 10 years will be zero rated. HM Customs and Excise will accept a letter from an empty property officer as proof that the property has been empty for the requisite amount of time.

Flats over shops

This is a scheme to enable property owners and occupiers to claim up-front tax relief on the whole of their capital spending on the renovation or conversion of vacant or underused space above shops and commercial premises to provide flats for rent. Further details can be obtained from the Environmental Health Line 020 7361 3002.

Empty Homes Agency

The Empty Homes Agency is an independent campaigning charity which exists to highlight the waste of empty property in England. It works with others to devise and promote sustainable solutions to bring empty property back into use.

For further information about the issue of empty homes in London and the UK please visit the Empty Homes Agency website.

Contact us

Grants and Empty Properties - contact Environmental Health
Telephone 020 7361 3002
email: [email protected]


Last updated: 27 October 2021