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12 December 2007

Halifax calls for government to act over empty homes

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by Lin Freestone

Halifax calls for government to act over empty homes

Following the recent Empty Homes National Week of Action, which took place earlier in December, Halifax has drawn attention to the high number of houses that have remained vacant for more than six months.

Research produced by Halifax indicates that of the 27% of the population who have lived near an empty home, 22% claim that its presence had a negative impact on the value of their property.

One in four people would be reluctant to buy a property if there was an empty house on the street, fearing the crime that empty properties can attract.

Halifax has called for the government to extend the reduced 5% rate of VAT for restoring an empty home.

This was recently extended to properties empty for more than two years and Halifax would now like to see it apply to all properties vacant for more than six months. A property vacant for more than 10 years, which is renovated and sold, attracts a zero rate of VAT.

Halifax estimates the average cost of restoring an empty home is £29,824. This includes significant repair to many aspects of a house including plumbing, kitchen, windows, roof and wiring.

There are currently 288,763 private houses sitting empty in England, which represents 1.6% of all privately-owned dwellings in the country.


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