We're seeking your assistance to identify empty properties in the area so that we can offer their owners advice and support to bring them back to use.

An empty home is a dwelling that is not in occupation for six months or more.

It is not a dwelling that is occupied on an irregular basis, such as a second home, holiday home or dwelling that is occupied for only part of the year, such as student accommodation. It's necessary for some properties to be vacant for relatively short periods of time while they are being sold or let. Indeed these vacancies are essential to ensure the effective functioning of the housing market.

Empty properties are a wasted resource, particularly when you consider the number of people on housing waiting lists. They can:

  • deny homes to those in need
  • increase pressure for new development
  • attract vermin, crime, arson, vandalism, squatting and anti-social behaviour
  • blight local neighbourhoods
  • be a considerable financial burden on owners
  • be a source of anxiety for owners and neighbours

The average cost to an owner of keeping a home empty is approximately £10,000 per year (council tax, security and dilapidation costs and loss of potential rent). Empty homes are wasted assets. Neighbouring properties can also be significantly devalued as a result of empty homes, making them difficult to sell.

Everyone benefits, but the greatest benefit is to the owner of the empty property. By improving its condition and bringing it back into economic use, it ceases to be a worry and becomes a valuable, productive asset. The area is improved as it reduces the threat of crime, anti-social behaviour and local nuisance and additional housing is available to those who need it.

There are many options which may assist the owner which include:

  • refurbishment and owner occupation
  • refurbishment and letting through the local authority via a nomination agreement
  • refurbishment and letting via an agent
  • developing the site
  • selling the site

We want to identify empty properties and bring them back into use. Once a property is brought to our attention, we'll try to contact the owner to find out why their property is empty. We can discuss a range of options and offer advice as to the most suitable course of action.

Owners of empty properties may be reluctant to carry out the necessary work to bring a property back into use. Although we always try to work with owners of empty homes for an informal outcome, we will use enforcement action where necessary. Some examples are:

  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders - we have the power to take over the management of long-term privately owned empty homes
  • Enforced Sale Procedures - allows us to bring about the sale of a privately owned house when there is an outstanding council debt
  • Section 215 notices under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 - provide us with the power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring land and buildings to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area
  • Compulsory Purchase Orders - we have the power to acquire property, even if the owner does not want to sell

Please contact us if you:

  • are the owner of an empty property
  • live next door to an empty property, or know of one
  • know somebody who owns an empty property – perhaps a relative or friend, or someone who lives abroad

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