Empty properties can make an area feel run down and undermine community spirit. They can also become the focus of anti-social behaviour, fly tipping and rodent activity.

Returning an empty property to use can not only resolve these environmental and social problems, but can also provide a ‘new’ home, which helps meet housing demand, reduces pressure on new build development and can also provide an income and asset for the owner.

We want to encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use as homes. We recognise that properties are often empty for a wide variety of reasons and our role is therefore to initially influence and encourage property owners. This can include advice about undertaking repairs, selling the property or renting it. However we may also take appropriate enforcement action where these informal negotiations fail.

We have information for owners of empty properties and also information for those affected by empty properties, such as neighbours and local residents.

Information for owners of empty properties

The cost of keeping a property empty

The condition of an empty property can deteriorate rapidly, costing more to insure and eventually repair, especially if it’s subject to vandalism. An empty home is also a wasted asset that could be providing a home or an income via rent. It has been estimated that keeping a property empty could cost the owner as much as £135 a week or just over £7,000 every year.

Council Tax premium

If a property is currently left empty for over two years, the owner will be charged a premium rate of Council Tax at 200%. As an illustration the owner of an empty property in ‘Band D’ would see their Council Tax Bill rise from just over £2,000 to just over £4,000.

Properties left empty for 5 years or more will be charged at 300% (for an average Band D property a bill of £6,000). Properties left empty for 10 years or more will be charged at 400% (for an average Band D property £8,000).

These provisions are designed to encourage property owners not to leave properties empty.

We need homes!

We have a huge shortage of affordable housing in Dorset and a long waiting list of people in housing need. We may offer to buy your empty home from you and renovate it to rent to a local family. We can help you renovate your empty home. We can then lease it from you. You will receive a guaranteed rent every month and we get a home to rent out to a local person or family. Contact the Housing Standards Team for more information.

5% VAT for long term empty home renovations

If a residential property has been empty for 2 years or more, the owner may be entitled to claim a reduced rate of VAT of 5% on works of renovation or alternation. Further information is available from the HMRC. If you wish to try and claim this reduced rate then you will need documented proof of the period of time the property has been empty. To assist we can check our records and if the property has been empty for 2 years, we can provide a letter confirming this. Contact us using the below details.

Empty property loans

If your empty property needs renovation, in certain circumstances you could be eligible for a low cost loan. Loans for up to £25,000 may be available through the Councils partner; Lendology Community Interest Company (CIC).

Lendology CIC’s team of advisers will guide you through the process of applying for an empty home improvement loan, assess your eligibility, how much you could borrow and the loan best suited to your circumstances. Contact Lendology CIC for an informal chat about the repairs or improvements required to your empty property and how to apply.

Read case studies about how we work with Lendology CIC.

My home is classed by Council Tax as a ‘second home’

If you have a second home which you use for parts of the year, for example for holidays or seasonal use, then your property is not likely to be an ‘empty home’.

If it has been ‘unoccupied’ continually for a substantial period of time, then even if it is recorded as a ‘second home’ for Council Tax purposes, we may class it as an empty home. We deal with many cases of abandoned ‘second homes’ for which enforcement action is appropriate due to the affect they have on the local area.

I have inherited a house and it's long-term empty

This is a common situation. Its probably best to obtain competent legal advice, as the first step will be to make sure you have the legal right to deal with the ‘estate’. This is called applying for probate and further information is available from the .gov.uk website.

Enforcement action

Where offers of help and assistance have failed to bring an empty property back into use, then the council has a range of discretionary enforcement powers available to it. These powers tend to be used as a last resort, where an empty property is causing a nuisance or causing other environmental issues within the local community.

This enforcement action can range from Compulsory Purchase powers, to in certain circumstances legally ‘forcing’ the sale of the property. We may also effectively take over the management of the property under the Housing Act 2004 using an Empty Dwelling Management Order. Further information can be found in our enforcement policy.

If I own an empty home, what should I do next?

Contact the Housing Standards Team for an informal chat about what you can do to bring the property back into use.

Contact us

If you own an empty home and want further advice about Council Tax, VAT or an Empty Property Loan then contact us.

Information for those affected by empty properties

How does the council find out about empty homes?

We need to prioritise our action on the worst empty homes, which have the most impact on our local communities. For this reason, enquiries received from residents are an important way of us finding out which properties we should focus on.

We also use council lists to actively seek out properties which are recorded as being long-term empty.

How to report an empty home

If you live near or are affected by a long-term empty home, then please contact us to report it. We may already know about it and be taking action

Bringing a long-term empty home back into use can take a long time, involving complex legal action. We will always try to keep residents up to date as a case progresses.

Report an empty home

To provide the most relevant link for this service we will need your postcode.

Change

I am interested in an empty property, how can I find out more?

You may be able to find out who the current owner is through the Land Registry. If you can't, contact the Empty Homes Officer, who can attempt to contact the owner on your behalf. Data Protection restrictions mean we cannot give out owner's details.

Share this page