Properties stand empty and derelict. Meanwhile, rents and house prices soar and families are made homeless because they can’t make payments. It’s a national scandal.
Meet mum of two Levinia Gluck, who decided it was about time a home in Hendon, London, was lived in again.
“I always wondered why such a potentially great property across the road from a park and with good access to the North Circular was sitting empty and abandoned,” she explained.
She simply sent them an iPhone snap of the house with the address. Within a week she received a £20 Amazon voucher as the house fitted the criteria of what the company was looking for.
But there was potentially a lot more money coming her way – because the firm not only rewards people spotting homes, it also offers you 1% of the price they buy the home for.
“For the next three months, YouSpotProperty kept me in the loop of their investigation into tracking down the owner and entering negotiations. On the day of completion, they paid me £6,500.”
“Many of these properties are owned by individuals who are not easy to track down,” said Ben Radstone, co-founder of YouSpotProperty.com.
“Some live abroad or are otherwise elderly people who don’t wish to be bothered. There is often an emotional attachment to the property, such as an inherited home or a childhood house, which leads to a reticence to do anything with the property in the short term.”
How you can help fix the problem
Local authorities have the power to force the sale of an empty or derelict home to bring it back into use – either to buy them themselves or force a sale if people ignore statutory notices or have unpaid debts.
The problem is, in many cases, councils don’t have the money or resources to act – especially in London.
“Returning empty and dilapidated homes to use is a bigger problem in London than elsewhere in the UK because councils simply cannot afford to buy and return them to market,” said Nick Kalms, co-founder of YouSpotProperty.
“In some cases, paying up to a million pounds for a dilapidated property which might otherwise be worth £75,000 in another city is simply out of reach of councils’ budget so this has led to an increase in part, in empty homes around London.”
Kalms and Radstone have bought more than 200 homes around London over the past five years allowing them to be renovated and put back into use.
To help speed up the process, they also reward members of the public who spot and report empty or derelict homes with £20 worth of Amazon or M&S vouchers and 1% of the purchase price if the home is bought. Another £500 goes into a local community charity. 1,700 people have earnt vouchers so far.
“The approach to returning these properties to use is all down to how the owners are contacted and made to feel about the process,” said Radstone.
“Many do not know the value of their properties, or want the authority of the council imploring them to sell.
“The solution lies in the approach used to contact and assist owners to dispose of these properties.”
You can report empty homes to them here.