Empty Homes

Options for dealing with empty properties

There are various ways in which Oxford City Council works to ensure empty dwellings do not remain so. We engage, encourage and when all else fails, we enforce.

Engage

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.

Encourage

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 imporvements 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.

Enforce

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;

  • The council can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO).
  • Notices can be served to improve the appearance of a dwelling and its land.
  • Insecure properties can be boarded up with a charge placed on the property to recover costs.
  • The council can and have Compulsory Purchased a dwelling.

Councils can now increase council tax charges by up to 100% on dwellings empty for over 2 years and in April 2018 we adopted this additional charge.