This is Empty Homes Week and Oxford City Council is calling on owners of empty homes to help tackle the housing crisis by bringing them back into use.
An empty home is one that is privately owned and has been unoccupied for more than six months. According to council tax records there are currently around 636 empty homes in Oxford.
Most of these (493, or 78%) have been empty for less than two years and 119 (19%) have been empty for between two and five years. Another 15 homes (2%) have been empty for between five and ten years, with the remaining nine homes (1%) empty for 10 years or more.
The council works with executors and owners and its preferred approach is to engage with and encourage them to bring their empty homes back into use. For the most part this happens without the need for further intervention.
Apart from increasing council tax on homes that have been empty for more than two years, councils have limited legal powers to deal with empty homes.
The council has helped bring 41 empty homes back into use in 2022/23 as a result of its work with owners and executors. This included the voluntary purchase of a home in Blackbird Leys that had been empty since 2011, which has now been let as a council home to a family on the housing register.
People who are aware of an empty home can contact the council’s Empty Property Officer on 01865 252280 or report it on the council website.
"We simply can’t afford empty homes given the scarcity and cost of housing in Oxford – it’s vitally important that any empty home is brought back into use as quickly as possible.
“We are in regular contact with owners and executors to understand their needs and help if required. Most empty home owners intend to bring them back into use anyway and our intervention can help resolve any issues and accelerate this process. If you’d like help or advice on bringing an empty home back into use, please get in touch.”
Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing
National Empty Homes Week runs from 27 February to 5 March. For more information visit the Action on Empty Homes website.