Empty Property Loan

If you own property in Test Valley that has been empty for more than 12 months and are interested in letting it to council-nominated tenants for five years, you may be eligible for an empty property loan.

A loan covering half of the cost of eligible work such as renovation, central heating or insulation up to £5,000 could be available.

Who is eligible for an Empty Property Loan?

  • Applicants must own the property and be able to prove ownership according to the council’s procedures
  • Either a valid full passport or details of the applicant’s national insurance number must be given as proof of identity
  • The property must be within the boundaries of Test Valley
  • If the applicant has a mortgage then he/she must not be in arrears. A current mortgage statement must be provided, the council will have the discretion to waive this condition
  • The property must have been vacant for a period of at least 12 months
  • On completion of the agreed work the property must normally be let to a tenant nominated by the council.

Are any properties excluded?

Yes, the following properties are excluded:

  • Those built or provided through conversion less than 10 years ago
  • Those in shared ownership with a registered social landlord
  • Leasehold properties that have less than 55 years on their lease
  • Any that are subject to a closing order or demolition order
  • Any that are subject to any compulsory purchase/leasing order
  • Those where a legal notice (relating to the condition of the property) has been served in the five years prior to the application for example, an improvement notice under the housing Act 2004 or a section 80 notice under the environmental protection Act 1990, and where the requirements of the notice were not completed to the satisfaction of the council. 

What can the grant be used for?

The Grant can be used for properties that do not meet the council’s health and safety standard, for example if they are unfit or if they have category one hazards according to the housing health and safety rating system, or are in substantial disrepair.

How much financial help might be available?

The grant will be available to meet 50% of the cost of the eligible work subject to the following maximum amounts: 

  • £15,000 (including VAT) for a family home where council nomination rights are for 5 years
  • The costs of specified approved fees can also be considered for an additional 50% loan. 

Do I have to repay the loan?

  • The loan is repayable at the time that the property is sold or ownership transferred or if the terms and conditions are not met
  • The property must remain in the ownership of the loan applicant(s) for a period of 5 years depending on the type of certificate given following completion of the work. During the whole of this period each unit of accommodation must normally be let to a tenant nominated by the council at the local reference rate
  • Repayment may be waived if the council’s nomination rights are assigned to the new vendor
  • The property must be maintained in a good state of repair once the works are completed
  • Where these terms and conditions are not met the loan together with compound interest must be repaid in full by the owner.

What standard of work is required?

The work must bring the property back to a condition that meets the council’s decent home standard and suitable for people to live in it.

What work is eligible?

  • The council’s officer will assess the work when a full inspection of the property is carried out and will consider
  • Work that will restore a property to a condition to meet the council’s standard of fitness and reasonable repair
  • Work to restore a house in substantial disrepair to a condition of reasonable repair
  • Work that will providing a satisfactory internal arrangement, for example making sure that toilets are not directly off kitchens
  • Renovation of properties/flats above shops for example to bring them back to a condition suitable for occupation
  • To install central heating where none is present
  • Energy efficiency work to insulate lofts, hot water tanks, pipes and cavity walls, and other energy efficiency works.

Are professional fees included?

The loan can be used to pay a maximum of 15% of the eligible works for the services of an architect, a surveyor or a combination of both.

What are the terms and conditions?

The applicant must agree to pay the difference between the builder’s costs for the total of the eligible work and the amount of loan before the scheme will proceed.
Work covered by the applicant’s own building insurance will not be covered by this scheme.

Is any security needed for the loan?

Where appropriate the loan will be secured against the property and lodged with Her Majesty’s Land Registry or the land charges register, whichever is applicable.

How long do I have to make up my mind once the application has been made?

Subject to the council’s discretion all formal offers of financial assistance will be valid for 6 months and all approved applications will be valid for 12 months.

How is the quality of the work assured?

The applicant will be responsible for ensuring the quality of the completed work. In the event of a dispute the council retains the right to make a payment to the builder where they are satisfied with the quality of the work.

What happens if costs go up unexpectedly?

The council will only consider payment towards agreed unforeseen work where the total cost of the work does not exceed the loan maximum. The loan will be considered on the same 50% basis to meet the eligible cost as the original approval. The applicant must meet the cost of any unforeseen work above this sum.

How is payment made?

  • The applicant must normally agree to the payment being made directly to the builder. An exception to this is where the applicant has already paid the builder and payment is reimbursing the applicant
  • Up to 90% of the loan may be paid by the council before completion of work
  • The council will calculate the amount of loan to be paid.

For further information please contact us.