Empty Homes

What constitutes an empty home?

Any empty domestic dwelling will be investigated and acted upon. However, the main focus of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s (the Council’s) attention will be on dwellings which have been empty for more than two years as there are specific enforcement powers available for properties which fall in to this category.

Southend Borough Council has a full time Empty Homes Officer. Working within the Private Sector Housing Team, the Empty Homes Officers primary objective is to bring a currently empty dwelling back in to use.

It should be noted that Private Sector Housing have no powers to bring empty ‘commercial’ units back in to use.

Bringing empty dwellings back into use

Empty dwellings can soon start to cause problems, especially if they are allowed to fall into disrepair. With rotten windows and doors, overgrown gardens, and signs of abandonment, they have the potential to:

  • Attract crime.
  • Attract anti-social behaviour, crime & squatting.
  • Become a venue for fly-tipping.
  • Attract vermin.
  • Become 'eye sores' and blight the lives of individuals and communities.
  • Reduce the value of neighbouring properties.

Realising the potential

Privately owned empty dwellings are a wasted resource and where possible and practical Southend Borough Council will work with the owners to assist with bringing them back into use.

The benefits to owners who decide to bring empty dwellings back into use include;

  • Increase the capital value of the property.
  • Increase sales potential.
  • Rental income.
  • Reduce risk of vandalism and squatting.
  • Avoidance of the 150% Council Tax premium where a dwelling has been empty for two years or more.

What can the Council do?

The Council will encourage owners to bring their homes back into use. Solutions being offered are centered on assistance and enforcement.


  • Offer help and advice with technical issues.
  • Assistance to become a landlord.
  • Help new and existing landlords find suitable tenants.
  • Introduction to managing agencies.
  • Help with financial assistance depending on circumstances / grants when available.
  • Assist with procurement of work / repairs.


  • Serving repair and improvement notices under Environmental Health, Planning & Building legislation.
  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
  • Compulsory Purchase Orders.

What can the owner of the empty dwelling do?

Each empty dwelling will require its own solution. Owners are encouraged to work with the Empty Homes Officer to develop the most appropriate solution for their circumstance. Some simple suggestions include:

  • Live in the dwelling themselves.
  • Sell the property.
  • Let the dwelling, either privately or through a letting agent.
  • Enter into an Empty Dwelling Management Agreement; whereby the council leases the dwelling from the owner for a fixed term for example 3-7 years.

The Council would prefer to bring a property back in to use through a negotiated process and provision of support and incentives. However, if the owner does not engage with the Empty Homes Officer and they continue to leave their dwelling empty, the Council will give consideration to the use of enforcement action.

Southend Borough Council has developed an Empty Homes Strategy which can be downloaded from this page

Contact us about an empty dwelling

Do you know an empty dwelling? Is it causing a nuisance? Is it an eyesore?

If so, we would like to know about it. The council has developed ways to encourage owners to bring their homes back into use. Our Empty Homes Officer will contact the owner, identify the problems and design solutions.

For further advice please contact:

Empty Homes Officer,
Private Sector Housing Team,
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council,
Civic Centre,
Victoria Avenue,

Email: council@southend.gov.uk

Tel: 01702 215002

Page last updated: 30/05/2017