YouSpotProperty, a website which rewards people for finding empty homes, has extended its offering to unused garages and abandoned gardens.
If that space is then turned into a home, the first person to report it gets a cheque to the value of 1% of the purchase price, normally around £1,000.
On top of that, the company will give any spotter a £20 Amazon or M&S voucher in return for details of the eligible empty land and a sizeable £500 will be donated to charity.
To qualify for the £20 reward, the garage or land must be big enough to fit at least one home.
It could be:
- Land between houses;
- Corner plots;
- Infill sites;
- Vacant or disused garages i.e MOT Centres;
- Derelict shops;
- Vacant light industrial units or residential streets;
- Houses with side plots or garages.
Unfortunately, only empty garages in London are eligible.
YouSpotProperty started out as a website solely targeting empty homes.
It's the brainchild of Ben Radstone and Nick Kalms who specialise in acquiring and restoring unoccupied and dilapidated houses.
Like the gardens and garages, YouSpotProperty will give you 1% of the purchase price if the home is sold and you'll get the £20 Amazon or M&S vouchers for spotting an eligible empty home. The company will also donate £500 to a local charity.
But be warned, the site has a number of terms and conditions the property needs to meet to be eligible. For example, the property cannot be for sale or rent on the open market, or have been up for sale or rent during the previous six month period.
It must also have been empty for more than 12 months or, if occupied, must appear to be derelict.
YouSpotProperty is looking for abandoned homes in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. People in other areas can report empty properties to their local council.
According to the latest Government figures, there are more than 610,000 empty properties in England, with about 200,000 sitting empty for six months or more.
Obviously, some homes are empty for transactional reasons. For example, they are being renovated or are in the process of being sold. But others have been abandoned and left to fall into disrepair.
Derelict buildings attract vandalism and vermin, and bring down local property prices – although not all abandoned properties are considered an eyesore.
Consequently, local authorities are keen to hear about empty properties. Check your local council’s website to find out its reporting procedure.
Empty property grants
If you own – or buy – an empty home you might be able to get a grant from your local council for essential repairs and improvements.
An empty property grant can cover the reasonable cost of eligible works to repair or renovate a property and make it suitable for living in again. Certain energy efficiency works can also be funded.
Some authorities also offer an empty property loans scheme to help owners restore empty properties. Unlike grants, loans need to be paid back.
How councils deal with empty homes
In most cases the council will try to work with the owner to explore how they might bring their property back into use. But, if people are reluctant to engage, local authorities have some legal powers they can impose.
If the owner fails to bring the property into acceptable use once contacted by the council, the local authority can issue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to force the owner to sell up.
The local authority can also enforce a sale if the owner of a property has failed to meet the terms of a statutory notice or owes Council Tax or other debts to the council.
Another option is an empty property management order, which allows the council to restore the property as residential housing – but ownership doesn’t change.
However, local authorities don’t have much money to spend on finding or buying empty properties so they don’t always use the powers available.