Bringing empty properties back into use

Forty-six private sector homes that have been empty for more than 2 years have been brought back into use over the past year thanks to the work of our Empty Properties team.

Empty homes are on the increase across the UK, with recent national figures showing an increasing number of longer-term empty homes over the last 5 years.

With housing in such demand across all tenures in Brighton & Hove, increasing the supply and quality of housing in the city is a particular priority.

As well as the wasted housing resource, derelict empty properties also have a detrimental impact on the local community.

We use a range of powers to make sure that empty properties are brought back into use

Working with owners

The approach in Brighton & Hove is to work with owners of empty properties to bring them back into use, but we will use enforcement powers where that approach fails.

A recent case saw an abandoned and dilapidated house brought back into use through enforcement action to get the property cleaned-up and sold.

The property was brought to our attention through several complaints about the build-up of waste and fly-tipping, attracting vermin and blighting the local area.

Unable to raise any response from the owner, we served a Statutory Notice under the protection from Damage by Pests Act 1949 s4 requiring the owner to clear the property, or the council would arrange clearance and charge them.

We then pursued an enforced sale, which involved charging the cost against the property and recovering the debt by use of the Law of Property Act 1925, to force a sale.

Once complete the property was sold via auction and the council recovered costs. The property is now almost completely refurbished by the new owners.

If you’re concerned about an empty property in your area, please report it to the Empty Property team by calling 01273 293244, emailing or through our online empty or derelict property reporting form.

Reletting empty council homes

Over the last year, we’ve reduced the number of empty council-rented homes waiting to be re-let from 251 at the end of March 2022 to 134 this January – a reduction of 117.

With more than 12,000 properties, we’ll always have a number of empty homes with people moving in and out, and many requiring work to ensure they are in good condition when new tenants move in.

Repairs and re-lets of empty homes were heavily affected by Covid restrictions and associated issues, such as the supply of materials, which lead to a higher number of empty properties.

We’ve since recruited more staff and additional contractors, which has allowed us to reduce the percentage of empty council homes properties down to 1.2%, putting us among the top performing local authorities in the country.

Making best use of the city’s homes

Councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones, Co-chair of the Housing Committee, said: “With the national housing crisis particularly acutely felt in Brighton & Hove, we’re committed to making sure empty properties are returned to use as homes.

“There can be complex reasons why a home is empty and we’ll always work with owners to bring properties back into use before taking enforcement action. However, we will use all powers available to us.

“Our empty property team works successfully with the owners of empty properties every day with great results. 

“If you’re aware of a property in the city that has become empty or derelict, please do let us know.”

Concerned about an empty property?


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