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Empty Homes

Updated: 20 Mar 2019
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An empty home will deteriorate quickly and become a nuisance
Derelict homes in the Village area of Belfast

Empty Homes Advice

If you own a property that is lying empty, it is a wasted resource for you and for those looking for somewhere to live.  
Vacant homes can deteriorate and become a nuisance for people living close by. They may also lead to neighbourhood decline.
If you bring your empty property back into use, there are a number of potential benefits for you.
These include:
  • generating rental income to offset rates and the costs of maintaining the property
  • releasing  capital from the sale of the property
  • protecting the long term investment potential of the property
  • reducing the risk of vandalism, squatting and anti-social behaviour
  • reducing liability for health and safety issues, or damage to adjoining properties
You can bring your empty home back into use by renting it out to a tenant, selling it to a new owner or by moving into it yourself.
Advice if you would like to rent your property
If you would like to rent out your empty property, you can either:
  • become a landlord yourself
  • use a managing agent
Becoming a landlord
If you decide to manage the tenancy yourself, you can find useful information in our advice for landlords section.
You can also find detailed information about the role and responsibilities of being a landlord at Housing Rights - landlord advice
Using a Managing Agent
You can also hire an agent to manage a rental property. Further information on letting agents is available on the Housing Rights website at using a letting agent.
Landlord Registration
Whether you decide to rent the property yourself or use a letting agent you must, by law, register with the Landlord Registration Scheme.
Advice if you would like to sell your empty property
If you wish to sell your property you can do this privately, through an estate agent, or at auction.
Selling privately
Where you choose to sell a property privately you are responsible for setting a price, marketing the property, arranging viewings and arranging the Energy Performance Certificate.
Selling through an estate agent
An estate agent will advise you on how to sell or auction your property.  If you use an estate agent you will have to pay a fee. The estate agent will be responsible for advertising, liaising with potential buyers and negotiating the price on your behalf.
  • You can read further information from NI Direct on its estate agents section.
Selling at auction
You may also wish to sell the property at an auction.  You may consider this option if your empty property is in poor condition, or you want a quick sale. Auctions are often attended by expert buyers or people looking for a project. They may see the value of your property regardless of its current condition.
You may also wish to sell your property to a registered housing association.
Making repairs to your empty property
Your empty property may need to be repaired to bring it to a good enough standard for rent or sale.
Planning approval
If you are planning to start any building work or alterations, you may need planning permission.  Your local council’s planning department can provide you with further advice and guidance.
Building control
If you alter the property, you may need to get building control approval.  Your local council’s building control department can provide you with further advice and guidance.
Finding a builder
If you need to find a builder to carry out repairs to your property, the Federation of Master Builders offers advice and information to help you find a local builder.
VAT
VAT is normally charged at 20% but for construction works there are exceptions to the standard rate which may apply to you.
Derelict and dangerous properties
Each local council is responsible for investigating derelict, dangerous and insecure buildings in their area. They have the authority to seek a remedy with the property owner.  If you have concerns and want to report a derelict or dangerous property, contact your local council.

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