How we deal with problematic empty properties

If the empty property becomes a serious problem due to its safety, condition or appearance, the Councils have the following powers to rectify the situation, which may result in you incurring additional costs and/or losing the asset.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs)

Serving compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) on empty properties may be justified where there appears to be no other chance of the property being used as a home. Before a CPO is confirmed, we will have to show that we have taken steps to encourage you to bring the property into acceptable use. We will also need to show that our reasons for making a CPO justify interfering with your human rights or those of anyone else with an interest in the property.

Housing Act 1985, Section 17

This Act gives us 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 get land for housing. This includes bringing empty properties back into use as homes, and improving substandard ones. Where we get control of a property through this power, we will usually sell it to:

  • a private-sector developer, or
  • an owner-occupier, or
  • a registered social landlord

See also:

The Housing Act 2004

This Act has extensive powers to make sure that properties are safe and suitable to live in. These powers are tenure-neutral and apply to empty properties.

See also:

Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO)

The Housing Act 2004 allows us to take out an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to make sure that your empty property is used for housing. We can make EDMOs on properties that have been empty for at least six months. There are two types of EDMO - interim and final. An interim EDMO lasts 12 months but a final EDMO can last up to seven, 14 or 21 years.

An EDMO allows us to:

  • 'step into your shoes' if you own an unoccupied building, and
  • make sure that empty properties are occupied and managed properly

We will bring the property back into use but you will still own it. We can take any costs to improve the property from the rents we receive when we let the property.

Dangerous or dilapidated Buildings or structures

Building Act 1984, Sections 77 & 78

We can order you to make property safe or allow us to take emergency action to make it safe. See also: Building Act 1984 on the UK Legislation website

Environmental Protection Act, 1990, Section 80

Statutory nuisance (statutory nuisance or premises which can affect health).

Building Act 1984, Section 76

We can order you to make your property safe or allow us to take emergency action to make the building safe.

See also:

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, Section 29

We can order you to: make your property secure or allow us to board it up in an emergency or allow us to fence off the property.

See also:

Enforced sales procedures - Law of Property Act 1925

Where we have issued and enforced a charge against a property you own, we have all the legal rights of a mortgage lender under the Law & Property Act 1925. We may have issued the charge against the property because you did not:

  • obey the terms of a statutory notice we issued for example a Town and County Planning Act S.215 notice, or any of the Acts listed above; or
  • pay Council Tax or other debts you owed to the local authority

See also:

Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 226

The powers in Section 226 are intended to help local authorities which have planning powers to take control of the land they need to put in place their community strategies and local development documents. These planning powers are wide enough to allow us to take over land for redevelopment.

See also:

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Page last updated: 20 April 2023

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