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What is an empty home?

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2. Identifying empty homes

How does the empty homes service identify empty homes?

  • tip-offs from members of the public: report an empty home
  • street surveys
  • using powers in the Housing Act 2004 (section 237), which allows for the identification of properties through the Council Tax system that are registered as empty. When seeking to identify empty properties, all processing of personal data will be in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.  

The empty homes service also encourages other officers and other public services to report an empty home, including:

  • housing officers
  • building control surveyors
  • environmental health officers
  • pest control officers
  • conservation officers
  • councillors
  • fire service
  • police

How can properties be brought back into use?

We will visit the property to make sure it is empty. We will look at the structural integrity and assess any damage, speak to neighbours about the house and its owners and take photographs for future reference. We will then contact the owners of the empty property to offer advice and support to those wishing to bring their empty homes back into use. Information is provided on letting and managing a property and initiatives have been developed to support this.

If all attempts to trace the owners fails or they refuse to take action to bring the property back into use, we will consider using enforcement powers.