What options are available to bring my empty property back into use?

We aim to work with owners and landlords to bring empty properties back into use. Help and advice is available about:

  • finding a tenant through our rent deposit scheme
  • private renting through a local letting agent
  • managing the property yourself
  • selling the property on the open market through an estate agent via auction
  • assisting with the initial costs of bringing a property to auction provided the costs can be reclaimed from the sale

What powers does the council have?

Where an owner persistently leaves a property empty, we have a range of powers, including:

  • legal action – We can take legal action when owners fail to improve the condition of the property themselves. We can carry out the work and recharge the owner for any costs plus additional expenses
  • enforced sale – Where we are owed money for works carried out in default, we can force the sale of the property to recover the debts
  • Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) – Used as a last resort where an owner has resisted all voluntary attempts to bring the property back into use, we can make a case to the Secretary of state to compulsorily purchase the property
  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) – If granted by a Residential Property Tribunal, we can take over the management of a property for a period of up to seven years when a property has been empty for more than six months

Are there grants available to bring properties back into use?

We do not offer grants for the refurbishment of empty properties.

As owners of empty properties have equity in the empty property itself, grants are not considered an appropriate use of public funds.

However, if a property has been empty for over 2 years, VAT liability for any refurbishment may be reduced to 5%.

There is also tax relief available for energy efficiency measures from HM Customs and Excise.

Can I get a list of empty properties in the area?

We do not disclose information or lists of empty properties in view of the Data Protection Act 1998. The information we receive about empty properties is confidential in nature, meaning contact details of individual owners can not be disclosed.

How do I find an empty property?

There are many ways you can find empty properties, including:

  • contacting local estate agents
  • contacting local property auctioneers
  • property supplements in newspapers
  • keeping a lookout in the area

How can I tell if a property is empty?

The following signs usually indicate that a property may have been empty for a long time:

  • windows boarded up
  • a large amount of uncollected post
  • the garden is not being maintained
  • disrepair or external damage e.g. broken window, vandalism
  • information from neighbours
  • no one registered to vote at the address

Why are empty properties a problem?

Empty properties can:

  • deny homes to those in housing need
  • increase pressure for new development on greenfield sites
  • act as a honey pot for crime and anti-social behaviour
  • attract vandalism, squatting, arson, fly-tipping
  • blight local neighbourhoods
  • be an eyesore
  • devalue surrounding properties
  • be a wasted asset and cost the owners money to maintain
  • Additional Council Tax Charges (see Empty property and second homes)