Empty homes

We understand that there’s a growing demand for more and affordable housing, so it's vital that we work with property owners to get empty homes back into use and tackle the neighbourhood issues they cause.

When a property is left empty for too long it can:

  • Attract crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Fall into disrepair and/or become dilapidated
  • Affect the image of an area
  • Devalue surrounding homes
  • Stop people who are homeless or vulnerable from getting a home.

Empty home owners

There are a range of options available to an owner, including:

  • Occupying the property yourself or moving in a relative or friend
  • Renting or leasing your property. You might want to consider leasing your property to the Council’s Ethical Lettings agency
  • Selling your property on to an owner/occupier, developer or housing association.

Benefits of bringing empty homes back into use

  • There is added security against anti-social behaviour, crime and squatting
  • You can charge rent if you become a landlord
  • We can help you find suitable tenants and offer property management advice
  • You will have long term investment potential
  • You may be able to get a rent deposit guarantee and arrange for housing benefit to be paid direct to you as the owner
  • The property is no longer a local ‘eyesore’
  • Improves the local area, making it more attractive to investors
  • It becomes a safer area to live in.

Do you have to pay Council Tax on an empty home?

From 1 April 2024 the following charges will apply in respect of Long-Term Empty properties;

Charges for Long-Term Empty properties
Property continuously unoccupied/unfurnished (Long Term Empty) Premium charged  Overall charge 
 More than 1 year but less than 5 years  100%  200%
 More than 5 years but less than 10 years  200%  300%
 More than 10 years  300%  400%

Empty properties may be entitled to a Council Tax discount under certain circumstances. 

When do we take enforcement action?

We try as much as possible to work alongside owners to bring properties back into use. But where an owner is unwilling to cooperate and their empty home is causing issues in the neighbourhood, we have to consider legal action.

Options available to us include:

  • Statutory enforcement action - We use a wide range of enforcement powers to make sure an owner improves their property
  • Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) – Enables the Council or a nominated party (usually a registered provider) to take over management of the property for up to seven years
  • Enforced sale - Allows the sale of an empty property to be forced to recover debts owed to us
  • Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) - When we buy a property from an owner even if they don't give their consent.

Empty homes in your area

If you are concerned about an empty property in your neighbourhood you can report it here.

Further advice and support

See our list of useful websites for owners, renovators, landlords and tenants:

© Wigan Council