The Council has the following powers to deal with problems associated with Empty Homes and to bring them back into use as residential accommodation.
Where a property is causing a nuisance to neighbouring properties e.g. a gutter or roof is leaking so that water is coming into a neighbouring property, we can require that the nuisance be stopped.
Open to access
If a house is unlocked and open so that anyone can get into it, we can require that work be done to secure it so that no unauthorised person can get inside.
If there are rats or mice in a property or garden we can require that steps be taken to destroy the pests and/or do work to keep the property free from pests.
If drains are blocked or broken, we can require that work be done to unblock the drain and/or repair it.
If a garden is so overgrown, or contains so much rubbish that it seriously affects the appearance of an area or neighbourhood we can require that work is done to clean up the problem.
If a building or structure is in such a poor condition that it seriously affects the appearance of an area or neighbourhood we can require that works of repair, restoration or demolition be carried out.
If we instruct an owner to do any of these works and they are not carried out within a reasonable time; then we can do the works in default. Default work is where we do the work and charge the owner for the cost of the works plus our administrative charge. If the owner does not re-pay the money, in certain circumstances, we can then force the property to be sold at auctions so that we can recover the money out of the sale price. It is hoped that the purchaser will then refurbish the property and bring it back into use as residential accommodation.
We try to persuade the owner to pay the bill for work we have done to bring a run-down empty property back to standard. But if they cannot or will not take responsibility we can sell the property at a public auction and deduct all our costs and charges from the sale price. We call this the ‘enforced sales’ procedure. This is a council power which does not need permission from a court.
Empty Dwelling Management Orders
If residential properties have been empty for over 6 months and every effort has been made to get the property back into use as a home, but without success. An application can be made to the Residential Property Tribunal for an order allowing us to take over the property, renovate it as necessary and let it for up to 7 years.
For some long-term empty properties, particularly those ‘blighting’ an area, the only solution could be to use our powers to buy it from the owner. We will either demolish it or sell it on to a not-for-profit landlord like a housing association to bring the property back into use.
Report an Empty Property
To report a problematic empty property please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01495 357813