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Ashford Borough Council tackle the problem of long-term empty homes

Ashford Borough Council tackle the problem of long-term empty homes

Ashford Borough Council - council tax levy to incentivise landlords to return empty properties to use...

Press release

20 September 2019

The owners of long-term empty homes in the borough are being urged to take advantage of help to bring their properties back into use - while being reminded that financial penalties will follow if they fail to do so.

The problem of private houses and flats left empty by their owners, sometimes for long periods of time, while the demand for housing continues to rise is recognised not just in Ashford but across the UK.

Charity Action on Empty Homes - which has organised Empty Homes Week on 23-29 September - says the number of empty homes has grown by 5% in the past two years, the fastest rise in a decade. The number of long-term (more than six months) empty homes in England stands at more than 216,000.

There are currently 455 long-term empty homes in the borough of Ashford. So how is the Council tackling the problem?

One success story has been the expansion of ABC Lettings, the social lettings agency which now manages in excess of 260 properties on behalf of private landlords. By entrusting specialists at ABC Lettings to manage their houses and flats, the owners enjoy a guaranteed rent and a range of other benefits. Visit

The council has various powers, depending on the condition of the property or whether it is subject to anti-social behaviour, to bring it back into use. Such powers could lead to an enforced sale, undertaking works in default and fines.

The Kent Empty Property initiative - run by Kent County Council - involves an interest free loan scheme so that landlords and owners of empty properties can apply for a loan to help bring a long-term empty property back onto the market for rental or sale. So far £455,000 has been loaned to bring properties back into use in Ashford borough.

"We are determined to cut the number of long-term empty homes across our district," said Cllr Bill Barrett, Ashford Borough Council's portfolio holder for housing.

"There are many reasons why owners leave a property empty. Very often someone will inherit what was their old family home and there is a strong sentimental attachment which means they don't sell it. Or they may not be able to afford the cost of improvements to bring a property back into use.

"Unfortunately, empty properties can be magnets for anti-social behaviour, vandalism and criminal activity and it's our duty to work with owners of these long-term empty homes to support them in bringing vitally needed homes back into use."

While a positive approach to persuading owners of empty properties to act is the preferred approach, financial penalties also exist that will make a big dent in the owner's wallet if they don't.

Currently properties which are empty for more than two years attract a 100% premium on the council tax. From April 2020, properties left empty for over five years will be subject to a 200% premium, and after April 2021 it will increase to 300% for properties which have not been occupied for over 10 years.

Action on Empty Homes is a charitable organisation that aims to raise awareness of the waste of empty homes. For more information about the charity and Empty Homes Week 2019, visit 


Public relations issued on behalf of Ashford Borough Council.

For more information contact:

Darren Laws

01634 671167

07958 304375