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Issues with an empty or a derelict property

What we can do about an empty property

We encourage the owners of long-term vacant properties to take action to return them to residential use. Occasionally we need to take enforcement action against owners who continue to leave their property empty. We do this when we receive complaints about public health issues, such as a build-up of rubbish or the property being open to unauthorised access.

In certain circumstances we can:

  • work with owners so they can voluntarily fix the problem
  • serve notice on owners when their property is causing statutory public nuisance and they have failed to willingly remedy the cause
  • carry out the works 'in default' if an owner refuses to follow the terms of the notice within the timescale given
  • issue a compulsory purchase order

We can offer landlords and owners:

  • free advice and help
  • financial help for repairs to bring properties back into use (only in certain circumstances)
  • an introduction to the Gateshead Private Landlords' Association to benefit from its membership

Please see the Empty property and enforcement booklet (PDF) [78KB] (opens new window) for more information on what we can do to help bring empty properties back into use.

What to do if the empty property is physically affecting your property

If your property has a problem such as dampness or dry rot caused by the disrepair of an adjoining empty property, it may constitute a 'private nuisance'.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows owners to take a civil action against another owner whose property is affecting their property and where a private nuisance can be demonstrated. The test for this is the effect that the situation has on you. It must either be harming the health of you or others living in your property, or a nuisance in that it interferes with your enjoyment of your property. It is not enough to be disturbed by something which is merely an eyesore.

The Court uses a common-sense test: "Is the activity or situation unreasonable or excessive or both in the opinion of the ordinary person in the street, not somebody who may be oversensitive or in unique circumstances?" If you consider the answer to be "yes", you could proceed with reasonable confidence.

This action should not be taken lightly and may lead to poor relations with your neighbour. More information on this:  Empty property causing you problems (PDF) [83KB] (opens new window) .

How to report an empty property

If you know of a property standing empty and causing problems, whether it is council or privately owned, contact us using the details below.

Leaving your property empty

It is not illegal to keep a property empty but it can be an expensive option. You must make sure that it is secure and well-maintained, that the gardens are neat and tidy, and that you pay your Council Tax and other utility demands.

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 repair any damage that may occur
  • consider giving a neighbour a telephone number so that someone can be contacted in an emergency

Documents

Links

Contact us

Enforcement Team
Development, Transport & Public Protection
0191 433 3376
Enforcement@gateshead.gov.uk