An empty home may be a flat, dwelling-house or house in multiple occupation which is privately owned and has been unoccupied for more than six months.
Not all empty properties brought to our attention fall within the categories described above (such as commercial properties). However we may make further enquiries to assist in resolving issues of concern or to provide advice on making better use of such a property.
Oxford has a severe housing shortage due to a growing population and limited opportunity to develop land for additional housing. For this reason we are committed to encouraging owners to bring unoccupied dwellings back into use.
Report an empty property
If you are concerned about an empty private sector property in your neighbourhood, please report the property to us.
Options for dealing with empty properties
There are various ways in which we work to ensure empty dwellings do not remain empty. We engage, encourage and when all else fails, we enforce.
Once ownership is established and an investigation initiated by the council into why the dwelling is empty, the owner is then contacted. This enables the council to understand the cause of vacancy and consider ways in which the owner might best be supported in bringing their property back into use.
We maintain regular contact with owners to offer support and information. For example we can:
- provide details of interested parties who may wish to rent or purchase an empty dwelling
- provide information on the council’s Home Improvement Agency who administers the Empty Home Loan for improvements required to bring the property back into use
- provide a letter confirming that a property has been unoccupied for more than 2 years. This enables the owner or builder, to apply to HMRC for a reduction in VAT on some works required to bring the dwelling back into use
- in some instances the council may offer to purchase the property
Where it is clear that an owner is either unwilling or unable to bring a dwelling back into use the council may consider it appropriate to deal with issues relating to it and to ensure it is brought back into use. We can:
- apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO)
- serve notices to improve the appearance of a dwelling and its land
- board up insecure properties with a charge placed on the property to recover costs
- compulsory purchase a dwelling
In 2018 we increased Council Tax charges on dwellings empty for over 2 years.
How we can help owners
If you are the owner of an empty property, you can contact us for further information on a wide range options that you may be able to consider. To get in touch, you can use the contact details at the bottom of the page.
We run a rent deposit scheme providing people who may be homeless with the opportunity of finding a home in the private sector.
The Private Rented Sector Team can refer potential tenants to you and provide cash deposits or bonds and can help out with tenancy agreements, direct payments of housing benefits and legal advice.
Please visit our Home Choice page for full details.
Empty dwelling figures
Empty dwelling figures are collated using our Council Tax data. The figures can fluctuate day by day but generally, throughout the year, they are around the 550 mark.
Below are the figures for empty dwellings in Oxford during November 2023. They are listed by category and all have been vacant in excess of 6 months:
- Empty 6 months to 2 years: 350
- Empty 2 to 5 years: 111
- Empty 5 to 10 years: 27
- Empty over 10 years: 11
- Owner deceased: 77
Contact the Empty Property OfficerAddress: Town Hall