Empty Properties

With little land to build on and many people currently in urgent housing need it makes sense for the community and the Council to take measures to bring empty homes back into use. Empty properties are a blight on the community, they rapidly attract vandals, they can be a focus for anti-social behaviour and can affect neighbouring properties by causing dampness and other problems.

Empty properties are a financial loss to the owner, both in terms of income lost and money spent. Council tax must be paid, maintenance is required and problems can be caused by squatters and vandals.

A summary of the problems and our approach to the issue is contained within the Empty Properties Leaflet  (365Kb) 

View Empty Properties Strategy document

How do I inform the Council or contact them for advice?

You can complete our empty properties online form to notify us of vacant properties, alternatively please contact us

What information does the Council need?

In order to respond to your enquiry or complaint regarding an empty property, we would benefit from the following information:

  1. Is it a Community Housing property? (ex-Council Houses) If yes, please contact the Community Housing Group direct on 01562 733000.
  2. Approximately how long has the property been empty?
  3. Is the property currently secure or is it open to vandalism/squatters? 
  4. Are there concerns over condition of property/garden?
  5. What are the owner’s name and contact details, if known.
  6. Please provide your name, address and contact details and whether you are the owner or a concerned member of the public or other.
  7. If you are the owner, we would appreciate knowing why the property is empty and what plans you may have for bringing it back into use in the near future?

What will the Council do?

The Private Sector Housing Team will try to contact the owners of vacant properties. Assistance will be given to help them decide what to do with their property. This may be as simple as guidance on how to rent out a property, or it can extend to providing financial assistance to refurbish the property and rent it out.

If the property is causing problems to neighbouring properties or the community and the owner does not undertake their responsibilities, then the Council will look to a range of enforcement options and take formal action.

Unnoccupied and insecure houses will be secured either by the owner or the Council.

Ultimately the Council has powers to force a property back into use or force the sale of problem empty properties. Obviously these measures are a last resort but will be used if there is no reasonable excuse for the property being empty or progress is not made towards bringing it back into use.