Guidance for Property Owners

Empty homes are a wasted resource which can have a negative impact on both a neighbourhoods’ social and economic status, and Newcastle City Council is committed to helping owners bring their long term empty properties back into use. Newcastle City Council’s key objectives for empty properties are to;

  • Reduce the negative impact empty properties have on the neighbourhood.
  • Improve demand for properties in a neighbourhood.
  • Increase the supply of affordable accommodation

The Council will work with owners to identify suitable solutions to help bring their properties back into use, which includes the offer of financial assistance towards the refurbishment of the property to bring it up to the Newcastle Accreditation Standard.  This document outlines the grans available and the application process.

Empty Homes Incentive Grants

An incentive grant of up to £10,000 may be payable to the owner, to carry out repairs or improvements and assist them in bringing the property up to the Newcastle Accreditation Standard. In order to qualify for this initiative the property owner must meet the following conditions:

  • The property has been empty for at least 6 months as confirmed by Council Tax records
  • The property must be brought up to Newcastle Accreditation Standard.
  • The property owner or their agents must not be subject to any Newcastle City Council interventions.
  • The property must not be subject to any charges or debts placed as a result of disrepair or intervention by Newcastle City Council.
  • Works will commence within 3 months of approval and be satisfactorily completed within 6 months of approval; if an extension to the timescale is a required the Home Improvement Officer should be contacted.
  • The property will be occupied / tenanted within 3 months of the works being satisfactorily completed.
  • The property will not remain empty for more than 3 months in any 12 month period for 3 years from date of the grant payment.
  • If the property is to be tenanted, the property owner must confirm that they will adhere to the Newcastle Landlord Code of Practice.
  • Grants will be recovered if the property is sold within 3 years of payment of the grant

Empty Homes Incentive Grant payments

  • A grant of up to £2,000 may be payable for properties that have been continuously empty for more than 6 months and up to 5 years as confirmed by Council Tax records at the point of application..
  • A grant of up to £5,000.00 may be payable for properties that have been continuously empty for more than 5 years and up to 10 years as confirmed by Council Tax records at the point of application.
  • A grant of up to £10,000 may be payable for properties that have been continuously empty for 10 years or longer as confirmed by Council Tax records at the point of application .

Confirmation on the length of time a property has been empty will be evidenced from NCC records, including Council Tax at the point of application.

Empty Homes Incentive Conversion Grant

A Conversion Incentive grant of up to £5,000 may be payable to the owner to assist them to convert their property and to carry out repairs or improvements to bring the property up to the Newcastle Accreditation Standard. Grants do not cover Project Management, Architectural or other professional services

£5,000 grant is available for the following;

  • Conversion of a non-residential property to one or more residential units.
  • Conversion of exiting residential property into two or more new individual residential properties
  • Conversion of a pair of properties into one residential property.

Conversion of a residential or commercial property to form 3 or more residential units will be eligible for up £2,000 per residential unit created, up to a maximum grant of £10,000 towards the renovation costs.

A residential unit must consist of a separate kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area. Studio’s and bedsits are not eligible.

The grant will be paid once the renovation works have been completed and all certificates, itemised invoice(s) including tenancy agreement have been received and the property including all units have been occupied.

In order to qualify for this initiative the property owner must meet the following conditions:

  • The properties to be converted have been empty for at least 6 months as confirmed by Council Tax records
  • The properties will be brought up to Newcastle Accreditation Standard.
  • The properties have the relevant planning approval.
  • The properties created are registered as individual addresses.
  • Bed sit properties are not eligible for grant funding.
  • The property owner or their agents must not be subject to any NCC interventions.
  • The property must not be subject to any charges placed as a result of disrepair or intervention.
  • Works will commence within 3 months and be satisfactorily completed within 6 months of approval being given if an extension to the timescale is a required the Home Improvement Officer should be contacted.
  • The property will be occupied / tenanted within 3 months of the works being satisfactorily completed.
  • The property will not remain empty for more than 3 months in any 12 month period for three years from the date of grant payment.
  • The grant will be recovered if any of the properties are sold within 3 years of payment of the grant.
  • If the property is to be tenanted, the property owner must confirm that they will adhere to the Newcastle Landlord Code of Practice.

Process

To apply for any of these incentives Property Owners should contact the Fairer Housing Unit, Empty Homes Team on:

Telephone: 0191 277 7864

Email: homeimprovementteam@newcastle.gov.uk

On enquiry, we will determine whether the property potentially meets the scheme requirements and we will send out the following documents:

  • An application form
  • Newcastle Accreditation Standard
  • Newcastle Landlords Code of Practice Agreement (relevant for properties which are to be tenanted only)

On confirmation of the property ownership, an inspection of the property will also be arranged and the inspection report will be sent to the owner. Please note that an application cannot be processed until proof of ownership is provided.

The completed Empty Homes application form should be returned to the Empty Homes Team who will then determine the actual period the property has been empty using Council Tax data.

For all Grants the owner shall be required to submit acceptable contractor invoices for the works, as identified in the Newcastle Accreditation Standard (NAS) inspection report. Invoices must be from a VAT registered third party contractor which shall not be the legal owner of the property. (Invoices must be for the direct cost of the scheduled works and not for professionals services such as Architects, surveys, plans and project management). The Council reserves the right to reduce the funding where costs are deemed to be excessive. Any works identified in the quote that are outside of the requirements identified in the NAS Inspection report shall not be allowed to be included in the grant application. The cost of such additional works shall be funded through alternative means by the owner. One quote only is acceptable and must show a cost against each relevant item on the schedule (as identified within the Accreditation Inspection Report).

Once the grant is approved works must have commenced with 3 months of approval and be satisfactorily completed within 6 months and the owner or their agent should notify the Empty Homes Team when these are complete. A further survey will be carried out to ensure that the works identified have been satisfactorily completed and the property complies with the requirements of the Accreditation Standard.

If the property is located in a Selective Licensing area or is a House in Multiple Occupation then the relevant requirements and permissions will also apply before the property can be tenanted. Checks shall be made with Public Protection and Neighbourhoods to ensure Licence Applications are valid where applicable before any payment is made.

If the survey confirms the above requirements the owner will be asked to provide the following:

  • An itemised invoice for the works showing the registered name and address of the contractor, address work took place, description of the works overall, amount, VAT amount and VAT registration number.
  • A copy of the tenancy agreement for the incoming tenant (Landlord properties only)
  • Relevant certificates
  • The signed Empty Homes Incentive Application form binds the owner to the Landlord’s Code of Practice so a separate signature is not required

Please note:

  • Only 1 incentive grant is allowed in a 3 year period
  • Following the completion inspection, only 1 other inspection will take place where works have been identified as not being completed; any further inspections will incur an additional administrative cost.
  • Payment will be made after the start date of the new tenancy/ occupancy
  • Payment will be made directly to the Owner of the Property for grant assistance
  • If conditions are not met Newcastle City Council may refuse to make payment of the incentive grant

Any invoices must show the registered name and address of the contractor, address work took place, description of works, overall amount, VAT amount and VAT number registration.

PLEASE NOTE: This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you have provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies for auditing or administrating public funds for these purposes. For further information see our Data Protection Policy available on our website www.newcastle.gov.uk/DataProtectionPolicy

The Council operates a Corporate Complaints procedure. If you are not satisfied with the service that you have received please contact us. Your comments help the Council to improve the service provided, complaints can be made:

  • By post or in person at Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8PR
  • By telephone on 0191 211 5180
  • By email to complaints@newcastle.gov.uk

Equally if our Clients are satisfied with the service they receive we would also like to hear about it, please email privaterentedservice@newcastle.gov.uk with your comments.

Should a Client wish to appeal about any decision taken in relation to their enquiry for financial assistance, such as disputes relating to eligible works, eligible estimates or levels of assistance, appeals will first of all be dealt with by the Private Housing Team Manager (or equivalent). Clients will be informed of the outcome of their appeal in writing. Should the issue not be resolved, the appeal will be referred to the Head of Housing (or equivalent). The decision of the Head of Housing will be final in this respect.