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Empty homes

Properties are sometimes empty for unavoidable reasons, for example between tenancies or owners, but some properties remain empty for long periods without good reason.

A long term empty home is one that has been vacant for 6 months or more. We want to see all empty homes brought back in use because they:

  • can be unsightly and attract antisocial behaviour
  • cost money
  • are a wasted opportunity when there is so much need for housing in our area

If you know of a property that has been empty for some time please inform us so we can contact the property owner.

Leaving a property empty may seem like an easy option, but owners of empty homes can incur significant costs:

  • there is an empty homes Council Tax premium for homes that are left empty for two or more years
  • insurance policies can be void if properties are left unoccupied, and specialist premiums can be high. Insurers may require additional security measures to prevent vandalism and squatting
  • maintenance costs can be higher than normal as minor problems are not seen early and addressed. Property values can depreciate significantly if not maintained. If buildings become unsafe, we can take action and recover our costs
  • unkempt gardens and buildings are unsightly, detrimental to the local area, and attract antisocial behaviour including arson, vandalism, and fly-tipping. You may have to pay to board-up or re-secure after unauthorised entry, as well as the associated tidying and repair costs
  • utility standing charges may still be due
  • property fraud is increasingly common in void rental homes. There have been a number of high profile cases where fraudsters have assumed the identity of the landlord and then been able to sell the property and make off with the proceeds

We want to encourage owners to work with us to bring their property back into use but, if no progress is made, we are prepared to to consider enforcement action, which can include:

  • formal notices to make a property safe, secure or tidy
  • Empty Dwelling Management orders (EDMO's)
  • Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO's)
  • enforced sale

Bringing the property back into use saves you these costs and could provide thousands of pounds each year in rental income or a lump sum through a sale.

We can help you to explore the options and support available, including a range of financial assistance options.

For more information contact our Empty Homes Officer on 0300 126 7000.

As buildings are usually the most valuable assets people own they make attractive targets for fraudsters. Any property owner can become a victim of property fraud; however it becomes considerably more likely where a property is empty.

There are many different types of property fraud. They can range from a fraudster using the empty property address to obtain loans and credit cards, to them claiming ownership of an empty property to raise money from mortgaging or selling it.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent fraud or forgery in relation to your empty home:

  • Make sure your property and title is registered with Land Registry
    This gives you greater security of title and means that if you suffer a loss as a result of a fraud then compensation may be available
  • Be careful if you are asked to sign documents
    Take professional advice if you are not sure what you have been asked to sign and what its legal effects might be
  • Make regular inspections of your property
    Check that the property is not being occupied without your knowledge or used as a correspondence address for persons you do not know
  • Keep your details up-to-date with your utility providers
    Fraudsters may change the utilities into their name in order to obtain ‘proof of address’ documents which may then be used to apply for credit.

We do not maintain a register of all empty properties within our area.

We are unable to provide names of businesses or addresses of empty commercial and residential properties as we consider disclosing this information would make them a target of crime. This information is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We actively seek to return empty homes into use. Whilst we will not provide a list of empty properties within the area, if you have an interest in a property we may be able to pass on your details to the owner.

Details of property ownership are available online with the HM Land Registry.

Last updated 08 February 2024