Empty Homes Policy

Enforcement and other formal interventions

9.1 Formal intervention has not been previously needed in our borough and the council is keen to avoid enforcement action where possible preferring to encourage and support empty homes back into use voluntarily. However, this is starting to change as a small number of properties have become neglected and the owners un-willing to engage. We suspect this could be as a result of the Covid pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis, and if this is the case we could see more empty and second homes suffer neglect. If an owner is unwilling to co-operate and their empty property is causing concerns in the neighbourhood, the Council may consider enforcement action, which could result in them losing ownership of the property. Enforcement action can include but is not limited to:

• Improvement Notices to ensure any necessary remedial works are undertaken as and when required.

• Securing empty residential or commercial premises to protect the public and prevent unauthorised access and acts of crime (Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982)

• Abatement Notices to ensure owners improve properties that are causing a statutory nuisance, for example a defective roof that is causing damp to a neighbouring property (Environmental Protection Act 1990)

• Action to improve the appearance of a property if it is considered to be detrimental to the amenity of an area under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

• Community Protection Warnings and Notices to prevent unreasonable behaviours that have a negative impact on local communities (Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014).

9.2 In some circumstances, it may be necessary for the Council to consider long-term enforcement solutions for problematic empty properties including:

• Enforced sale (Law of Property Act 1925) - the Council may enforce the sale of a private property to recover outstanding debts secured against the property (excludes council tax debt).

• Empty Dwelling Management Orders (Housing Act 2004) enable local authorities or nominated parties, usually registered providers, to take over the management of an empty property for up to 7 years and rent it out to people in housing need. Renovation costs to improve the property can be reimbursed through rental income. 

• Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)can be used by local authorities as a last resort where all other options have failed. CPOs give local authorities the power, where justified, to acquire land or property including empty properties that are causing a statutory nuisance with or without the owner's consent, to prevent further decline.

A full list of available powers and legislation can be found at Appendix A.