One of the worst things that can happen to a landlord is for a good tenant to move out leaving the property unoccupied until a new one can be found. The bills soon mount up if the home is empty and now things have just got worse with a change in the rules about Council Tax on empty properties. Local councils will now have the discretion to charge Council Tax at the full amount if they wish. This could be very unwelcome news for landlords.
Until now there was an exemption from Council Tax for up to six months if the property was unfurnished and unoccupied. This exemption has been abolished so it will be up to your local council to decide how to treat you. They could offer a discount but they will be allowed to charge the full amount. It could be even worse if the property is empty and unfurnished for two years. In that case the council is allowed to charge a premium of up to 50%.
Many landlord insurance clients buy properties needing refurbishment and do them up so that they can be let out later on. There used to be an exemption for properties undergoing major works but this has now been withdrawn and it will be up to the local council to decide whether or not to allow a discount. Landlords who think they may be affected by these changes should consult their local council websites to see what decisions have been made.
The expense of looking after an empty home is often overlooked by people who are thinking about getting in to the buy to let business. The utility charges alone can knock a hole in the budget, especially in the winter if you are trying to keep the property warm and inviting. Most properties will need some form of maintenance or repair and a fresh coat of paint is nearly always needed. Insurance can also be an unwelcome additional cost because insurers often charge more for unoccupied properties. There is also the question of someone visiting the property regularly to keep an eye on its general condition. If you live some way away the fuel costs soon mount up and it is not always easy to arrange for someone else to act as caretaker.
It is usually far better to have a tenant at a discounted rent rather than have an empty property. If it looks as though you will struggle to find a tenant at the rent you would like perhaps you should reduce it to a level that will be attractive? Take the advice of a reputable agent who knows the local area or if you do not use an agent spend some time researching your market.
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