What the council can do about Empty Properties

The Empty Property Officers give advice to owners of empty properties on how they can bring their properties back into use. If you own an empty property and are not sure what to do with it, here are some of the options available to you: 

Leasing scheme

The council offers a service that will manage your property including all contact with the tenant for a lease that lasts between three or five years. At the end of the lease, the property will be returned to you with vacant possession. You will receive an income guaranteed by the council throughout the life of the lease, even when the property is not occupied. For more information, please see our pages on letting your property to the council.

Letting Privately

You could use a managing agent or become a private landlord and let the property to tenants yourself. For more information and advice on letting you can contact:

Letting to Students

Both of the universities in Brighton & Hove operate schemes that let properties to students. For more information, go to:

Selling the Property

You could either sell your property through an estate agent, at auction, or by advertising it yourself.  Contact details for local estate agents are available here.

The Empty Property Team at the council hold a list of Investors in Brighton & Hove that are interested in buying empty property to develop. This will allow you to arrange a private sale which would not incur the costs of agents. To get a copy of the Investors List, please email us at housing.strategy@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Refurbishing the property

This would allow you to live in the property yourself or to make the property suitable for letting. There are some tax breaks for refurbishing empty properties and flats above shops. For more information visit the HM Revenue and Customs website or call the National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000.

To find an approved trader you can go to the Buy with Confidence section of the trading standards web page. This aims to promote and support good reliable traders and businesses. 


The council's aim is to assist owners to bring their properties back into use. However, some properties that are left empty for long periods of time can be poorly maintained and have a negative effect on neighbouring properties. As a result, the council’s Private Sector Housing Team has powers to:

  • Serve notice on owners whose property is causing statutory nuisance where the owner has failed to willingly remedy the cause
  • Carry out the works ‘in default’, should an owner refuse to comply with the terms of the Notice within the timescale given. This will result in a charge being registered against the property. The charge will also include an administration fee. 

As last resort the council may consider using powers to remove ownership so that it can be reoccupied. This is only when the property has been empty for a substantial period of time and if it is felt that it is unlikely to be brought back into use without this action. Properties will be considered carefully by officers from different sections in the council to ensure that all other options have been exhausted, and any action will be approved by council committee. There are three options that the council can choose to use: 

  • Compulsory Purchase Orders (Section 17 1985 Housing Act)
  • Enforced Sale (section 103 Law of property Act)
  • Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) (Housing Act 2004)

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