Empty Homes

What constitutes an empty home?

Any empty domestic dwelling will be investigated and acted upon, possibly by teams other than Private Sector Housing. Initially empty dwellings will be assessed for any nuisance, pest harbourage and visual impact on the area. However, dwellings which have been empty for more than two years will be subject to additional enforcement powers where the primary objective is to bring empty dwellings 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 we will work to assist with bringing them back into use.

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

  • increase in the capital value of the property
  • increase in sales potential
  • rental income
  • reduced 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?

We will encourage owners to bring their homes back into use. Solutions being offered are centered on support and enforcement.


  • offer help and advice with technical issues
  • guidance to become a landlord
  • help new and existing landlords find suitable tenants
  • introduction to managing agencies
  • help with financial assistance where available and depending on circumstances


  • serving Notices under Housing, Environmental Health, Planning & Building legislation
  • prosecution for non-compliance or the use of Civil Penalties
  • 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 Private Sector Housing team 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 to 7 years

We would prefer to bring a property back in to use through a negotiated process and provision of support and incentives. However, where there is no positive engagement, and the dwelling remains empty, we will give consideration to the use of enforcement action.

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. We have 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:

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

Email: council@southend.gov.uk

Tel: 01702 215002

Page last updated: 01/11/2018