Empty homes

How we view an empty home

Empty homes are a wasted resource that could benefit the wider community. Bringing empty homes back into use is part of our aim of meeting the need for decent and affordable homes. We view empty properties as:

  • potential homes for private buyers or tenants
  • a step onto the ladder for a key worker such as a nurse, police or fire officer
  • housing for families threatened with homelessness or someone with support needs

These homes are valuable assets that could benefit their owners by providing extra income through a letting or sale. In addition, properties that have been empty for many years and are in poor condition may attract vandalism, anti-social behaviour and squatters. The owners sometimes do not live locally so are unaware of the impact their empty home is having on neighbours and the community. As most empty homes in the district are privately owned, we have a strategy in place which covers how we work with owners so the homes can become reoccupied.

Reporting an empty home

If you know of any empty homes in our district, please contact us. Any information you provide will be for council staff only. Any personal information will only be used to help us make enquiries and will not be disclosed to any third party without your permission.

Name:
Housing
Job title:
Housing
Address:
Chichester District Council
East Pallant House
Chichester
West Sussex
PO19 1TY
United Kingdom
Telephone:
01243 534734
Email:

Advice for owners of empty homes

If you own an empty property and are not sure what to do with it, here are some of the options available to you:

  • Empty homes assistance
    This is available to owners of properties that have been empty for more than a year and are to be brought back into use. Assistance is available to help pay for works required to the property to meet the decent homes standard. The maximum amount of assistance is 50% of the cost of the works, up to a maximum of £10,000. In return, for the next 10 years, we select the tenants.

  • Letting privately
    You could either use a managing agent or become a private landlord and let the property to tenants yourself. For more information and advice, please contact the associations listed in Offsite Links. Alternatively, we may be able to help you let the property through our Private Sector Housing Access scheme.

  • Selling the property
    You could sell your property through an estate agent, at auction, or by advertising it in local newspapers.

  • Refurbishing the property
    If your property has been empty for two years or more, we can provide a letter that lets you get a reduced rate of VAT (5%) on most of your renovations. This may help you make substantial cost savings.

For further information please see the Information for owners of empty homes document.

Buying an empty home

Please contact us if you are interested in investing in an empty property or you would like more information about homes on a specific street. We can work through a list of properties to see if we have information for you that is not data protected. We can also write to owners with your contact details or forward a letter from you.

You can make your own enquiries. For example, you can contact the Land Registry. For a small fee, they will carry out a search of the property that should reveal the name of the legal owner unless the property is unregistered.

Empty homes enforcement

Our main aim is to encourage and assist owners to bring their properties back into use. However, some homes that are left empty for long periods of time can be poorly maintained. These can have a negative effect on neighbouring properties. If this happens, we may:

  • Serve notice on owners whose property is causing a nuisance and the owner has failed to fix the problem.
  • Carry out works if an owner refuses to follow the terms of the notice within the time given. This will result in a charge being registered against the property. The charge will also include an administration fee.

As a last resort, we can remove ownership so the property can be reoccupied. This is only when the property has been empty for a long time and if it is unlikely to be brought back into use by the owner.

Empty Homes Strategy

To tackle the problem of long-term empty homes, we have developed an Empty Homes Strategy for 2007-2012. The starting point of our strategy is to work with the property owner where possible. We stress the importance of being understanding of all different situations as there are many reasons why homes become empty.

However, we also recognise that an empty home is bad for a neighbourhood as well as being a wasted resource. Owners have a responsibility to their properties, and should know that while we would prefer to work with them, refusing to take action is unacceptable. For more information, please see our Empty Homes Strategy.

Sussex Empty Homes Forum

We are a member of the Sussex Empty Homes Forum (SEHF), currently chaired by Brighton and Hove City Council. All of the forum's 13 councils share the aim of bringing privately owned empty homes back into use. The forum provides a strategic framework for empty homes work across Sussex while complementing individual councils' strategies.