Empty homes

Empty homes are a waste of resource. By bringing them back into use we could remove the problems associated with empty homes for the good of the wider community and help address housing needs. The council’s Empty Homes Strategy involves working with other appropriate agencies and demonstrates the council's commitment to improve this problem. This strategy is available at the bottom of this page, it links in with the Private Sector Housing Strategy which is also available.

Information is key so if you are either the owner of an empty home or are concerned about an empty home in your area then please either email ContactUs@eastcambs.gov.uk, or contact the Empty Homes Officer on 01353 665555.

Impact of empty homes

For the community empty homes can mean that peoples perception of an area change for the worse. They fear that house prices will be affected and the fear of crime increases and for those living next door this can be extremely upsetting.

For the owner leaving a home empty can be very costly. A house that is not lived in very quickly deteriorates, moisture and the elements can get in and do extensive damage. Pests such as rodents can go undetected and damage the fabric of the property. If the property is not secure vandalism, theft and squatters can become an issue. The costs of bringing the property back into use may escalate as a result of these and other problems and the relative depreciation in the value of a property can do the same.

By bringing an empty home back into use the owner can make significant gains:

  • Capital funds, if the property is sold
  • Income from rent
  • Increased property value
  • Reduced outgoings, for example, no Council Tax to pay
  • The property if lived in by either tenants or an owner will not depreciate in value as quickly

Formal action

When a property is shown to be having a seriously negative impact on the community and the owner is unwilling to take reasonable steps to cooperate formal action can be taken.

A Compulsory Purchase Order is where the council takes over the ownership of the property and then sells the property and in doing so can recover any costs of work done in default to make the property safe. Enforced Sale can be used when there is a debt owed to the Council which can be recovered through the forced sale of the property.

An Empty Dwelling Management Order enables the local authority to secure occupation and proper management of privately owned properties that have been unoccupied for at least 6 months, but the local authority would itself not need to take over ownership of the property.

Short-term advice for owners

There are many things that the owners of empty homes can do to reduce impact of their property. These Include:

  • Ask the neighbours to keep an eye on the property and give them details of how to get in contact with you
  • Ensure gardens are maintained in a reasonable state
  • Turn off the water at the stopcock, and ensure outside pipe work is sufficiently lagged and ideally during the winter months outside taps are left empty
  • If it is safe to do so keep the heating ticking over at a low level to prevent frost damage

When  you or your representative make their regular visits here are some suggestions for things to check:

  1. Gutters are kept clear and drains are not overflowing (try to visit when it is raining)
  2. There are no signs of rodents or other pests
  3. Try to chat with the neighbours to see if there have been any problems
  4. Check for damp and mould and sign of rot in any woodwork
  5. Look out for cracks in brickwork and plaster
  6. Remove post

Report an empty property

If you would like to report an empty property, or notify us of an empty property that you own, please complete our empty property report and notification form (external link)