The Council receives many queries relating to empty properties. Many of these are about empty properties being open to unauthorised access following criminal damage, or vandalism or rubbish dumped in their yards or gardens.
What can the Council do about these issues?
As part of a national push to get empty properties back into use, the Council have appointed an Empty Property Officer is dedicated to help deal with these issues and encourage the owners of empty properties to bring these much needed homes back in to occupation.
Most complaints concern empty properties open to unauthorised access following criminal damage, vandalism etc or rubbish dumped in yards or gardens of these properties. The Council has a range of powers available to deal with these problems.
As a result of being given advice and assistance, owners of empty properties may bring their properties back into use on a voluntary basis. However in some cases properties may continue to be left empty, resulting in further deterioration and may attract crime, vandalism and antisocial behaviour. In these situations we have a variety of options available to bring properties back into use.
The following are examples of statutory enforcement action we can take:
- Emergency Powers
- Statutory notice
- Works in default
- Enforced sale
- Compulsory Purchase Order
- Powers for Local Authorities to lease long-term empty properties
- Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO’s)
- Development of area based renewal initiatives
This is explained in more detail in the booklet Empty Property and Enforcement 979Kb)
Is it illegal to leave my property empty?
No, It is not illegal to keep a property empty but it can be an expensive option.
You must make sure that it remains secure and well-maintained during the vacancy, that the gardens are kept neat and tidy and that you pay your council tax and other utility demands.
If your property is only lived in occasionally, perhaps because you live elsewhere at other times, you need to make arrangements for it to be secure and well maintained during your absences.
To prevent the property falling into disrepair and becoming a target for vandalism you should, at least:
- Arrange adequate insurance
- Arrange for the gardens to be maintained to a minimum standard
- Create the appearance that it is occupied, for example, by hanging curtains
- Have it inspected at regular intervals and undertake any repairs or damage that may occur
- Consider giving a neighbour a telephone number so that someone can be contacted in an emergency