There are many reasons why properties are left empty. The property may be going through probate or the owner may have gone into residential care or become bankrupt. Details are available regarding our list of council tax exemptions.
If a property is empty, it is always our intention to work alongside the owners on a voluntary basis and provide assistance where possible. This can include:
Every Local Authority has a duty to provide information, guidance and general support to owners of empty properties. Through this support the majority of properties can be returned to use, however, where negotiations with an owner have failed there are a number of powers available to make sure the property is brought back into use.
The decision to take further action will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and factors such as the length of time a property has been empty and previous correspondence with the Local Authority.
Unsightly land and property affecting the amenity of the area
Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides the local planning authority with the power to take steps requiring land to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area.
Dangerous or dilapidated buildings and poor property conditions
The city council have various pieces of legislation which provide legal powers to deal with privately owned empty properties that are causing a hazard or a nuisance. Ultimately, if the owner fails to carry out the required works then the city council can either carry out the works in default or prosecute the owner, or do both. In these events a land charge will be placed on the property to recoup the costs.
Unsecured and opened to access
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 s.29 gives the local authority the power to undertake works in connection with the building for the purpose of preventing unauthorised entry to it, or for the purpose of preventing it becoming a danger to public health.
Acquisition of land and property
Enforced sales process - This is a process by which the council brings about the sale of a privately owned house that has incurred debts towards the council.
Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) were introduced under the Housing Act 2004. The local authority applies to take over the management of the property, carrying out works if required and then renting out the property. Management and any refurbishment costs can be reclaimed from the rental income with any outstanding balance going to the owner.
A compulsory purchase order is used as a last resort where all other routes have failed. It allows local authorities the power to take over land, houses or other properties to increase the number of houses available or improve the quality of the housing stock. The main uses of this power are to obtain land for housing. This includes bringing empty properties back into use as homes, and improving substandard ones.