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Helping the empty property crisis

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In the midst of a widely reported housing crisis, it might seem strange that there are more empty and apparently abandoned homes this year than there were last year.

In fact, there is a housing surplus. Taking into account second homes, homes that new owners or tenants are waiting to move into, and those which are simply long-term unoccupied, Britain has more “spare” housing than that which is needed, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper on the 3rd of February 2017.

That surplus is greater now than at any time in the past 20 years, says the newspaper. 

Unoccupied or abandoned homes

The figures suggest that by bringing long-term empty and unoccupied homes back onto the market may help to alleviate the current housing crisis.

Fortunately, there are incentives not only for doing just that but also financial rewards for individuals who spot a home that appears to have been abandoned and reports it to the relevant authorities.

A story in the Mirror newspaper on the 20th of June 2017 recounts how one woman was able to earn herself £6,500 simply for reporting a family home had had been standing empty for a sustained period of time.

She had reported the housing opportunity to a small start-up company which buys empty property, which it then renovates to put back on the market, whilst awarding those who spot and report such unoccupied property a “finders” fee.

Initiatives such as this help struggling local authorities who simply do not have the resources to exercise their right to compulsorily purchase empty or derelict property – although many councils certainly offer incentives for the private purchase of such renovation opportunities (Durham County Council, for example, offers free loans and grants).

Empty property insurance

If you are thinking of buying an empty property to renovate, it is important to remember the importance of unoccupied or empty property insurance for the duration of any works and until you or your tenants take up residence.

As we explained in a short guide to insuring empty property, ordinary home building and contents insurance or landlord insurance does not provide the full protection your home needs whilst it is unoccupied and undergoing renovation works.

Here at UKinsuranceNET, we are able to tailor empty property insurance to meet your precise needs – since these are likely to vary from one type of property to another.

Generally speaking, though, the objective is to provide the same level of cover as when the property is occupied, namely:

  • protection against potentially devastating events as flooding, fire, storm damage, impacts (from falling objects and vehicles), theft and vandalism;
  • indemnity insurance against your liabilities as the property owner – if claims are made alleging your negligence as the cause of injury or property damage to third parties (even including those who might have entered your property illegally, such as vandals, squatters or arsonists).

Unoccupied property insurance is also very flexible, since you do not need to buy a full year of cover if the building is only going to be empty for, say, three or six months – policies are available to cover these shorter periods.