Landlords with empty properties in the London Borough of Barnet are being offered cash grants of up to £28,000 to renovate.
The aim of the council offering the incentive is to bring empty homes back onto the market in order to house vulnerable families.
Here, we explain how the scheme works and offer advice on how landlords can ensure their properties are up to scratch.
Landlords offered renovation grants
Barnet Council has launched ’empty property grants’ to help landlords renovate or convert empty properties and get them back on to the rental market.
Landlords in Barnet can apply for grants of £15,300 for a one-bedroom, £20,400 for a two-bedroom or £25,500 for a three-bedroom property, with the stipulation that they must agree to rent the home out once works are complete.
There’s also an incentive for the first applicants, with those who apply before 30 November granted an extra £2,500.
Councillor Gabriel Rozenberg says: ‘Barnet has hundreds of vulnerable families who are looking for a long-term home.
‘When we face such an extreme supply shortage, it’s vital that any empty homes are brought back into use as quickly as possible.’
Landlords in Barnet can apply for the grants by calling 0208 359 4359 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your legal responsibilities as a landlord
It remains to be seen how successful this scheme will be in improving access to housing stock in the rented sector, or if any other councils will follow suit.
Regardless of incentives, though, there are a range of responsibilities you’ll need to adhere to when letting a property. For example, all landlords must:
- Ensure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
- Fit and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
- Adhere to fire safety regulations
Failing to follow these rules can result in a health and safety inspection from your local council, and the prospect of an improvement notice, emergency action or a prohibition order.
- Find out more: our guide to becoming a landlord lists everything you need to check before letting a property.
Improving your buy-to-let property
As well as ensuring the health and safety of your tenants is safeguarded, you’ll want to keep your property in tip-top shape to avoid costly void periods.
With that in mind, there are several improvements you can make ‘under the bonnet’ before letting your home out that will help the property stand the test of time.
- Don’t delay on damp
Damp can be a nightmare for both landlords and tenants, and the costs of repairing your home’s damp problem can run to thousands of pounds.
That means it’s vital to not ignore signs of damp patches, condensation or mould, as what might initially look like a minor problem can quickly escalate.
You can find out more about identifying and treating damp in our guide on the different types of damp that can affect your home.
- Make sure your home is well insulated
If you’re renovating your home before letting it out, spending money on decent insulation can be a good investment in the long run.
As well as reducing your tenants’ energy bills, a well-insulated home can be a factor in keeping hold of good tenants for the long run.
- Consider rewiring
If you’re about to let out an older home, it’s best to ensure it adheres to the current electrical safety standards, as discovering a problem too late could cost you thousands.
If a property hasn’t been rewired for decades, a change could be significantly overdue. If you’re unsure of when your home was last rewired, check the age of your fuse box as this can offer a tell-tale sign.
New wiring works should only be conducted by professionals, and any electric work must adhere to Part P Building Regulations.
- Get your boiler checked
By law, you’ll need to have a safety inspection done on your boiler each year – but now’s a good time to consider whether a new boiler could be a good long-term investment.
While a new boiler can cost as much as £3,000-£5,000, data from our annual boilers survey shows the average boiler repair costs £210.
You can find out more in our guide on five things you need to know before you buy a boiler.
Buy-to-let renovation costs
In addition to the vital renovations above, freshening up your property can add to its overall value and achieve a better price on the rental market.
Make sure you do your sums before rushing in, though. Which? research published in August found that 22% of homeowners spent more than they planned on renovation work.
The most common overspends were on major renovation work, including double-height extensions, loft conversions and garage conversions.
On a buy-to-let property, however, these types of renovations could potentially increase the number of bedrooms you can let out – so it’s very much a case of weighing up the risk and reward.
Kitchen and bathroom renovations
As with any renovation work, the price you’ll pay can vary significantly, so always get several quotes before proceeding. Our research found that the four most common ways to cut down on the cost of bathroom renovations were:
- Using a fitter you sourced yourself
- Sourcing components yourself
- Getting components from a range of different stores
- Negotiating on costs
Get ideas on renovating your home by downloading our home improvement checklist.