Empty homes

Empty properties blight communities because they deteriorate rapidly and can become targets for vandalism and crime. To tackle the issue, we have a strategy in place to help reduce the number of long-term empty dwellings in the borough.

What is defined as an empty home? 

An empty home is a dwelling that has been unoccupied for more than 6 months (excluding council owned properties).

Report an empty home

If you suspect a property may be an empty home, you can report this to the Private Sector Housing Team at privatesectorhousing@westlancs.gov.uk or 01695 585 247. 

I own an empty home. What can I do to bring it back into use?

If you own an empty home you will know that instead of earning you money, it is costing you money. There are a number of options available to you depending on the condition of the property:

Letting: if your property is in good condition, you could let your property. You can do this yourself or through an established local letting agent. You will pay a fee to the agent to manage the property on your behalf. If you decide to let the property yourself, it is important that you understand the law before you let to a tenant. A member of our Homelessness Advice & Prevention Team can go through the legislation with you. We can also inspect your property to tell you if it is suitable for letting.

Sale: if you do not wish to let your property, you could consider selling it. You can sell through an estate agent or a property auction. Auctions can be a quicker way of selling an empty home, especially if it needs renovating, as many developers and cash buyers go to auctions specifically looking for empty homes.

Renovating: if you want to renovate your property to make it suitable for occupation or sale, it is important that you find the right builder. Many builders are offered work through recommendations from past customers, so it's worth speaking to friends or neighbours who have had work done. Our Private Sector Housing Team also has a list of approved builders who they have vetted to ensure their work is of a good standard and Lancashire County Council runs a Safe Trader Scheme (external link) which can help you find a reliable local trader.

What can the Council do if I leave my property empty?

If you own an empty home and refuse to co-operate in bringing the property back into use or selling it, the Council can take enforcement action. The Council can serve various legal notices to force owners to take action to repair, make safe or demolish the property. If works are carried out by the Council because of a failure to do so by the owner, a legal charge is placed on the property which allows the Council to recover the cost when the property is sold or ownership changes in another way. In some cases, the Council can enforce the sale of a property where it has registered a legal charge so that the money owed can be recovered

I own an empty home, what should I do next?

If you own an empty home, contact the Private Sector Housing Team. The details of your property will be recorded along with your plans for the property. If you are trying to sell or renovate, this will be noted and no enforcement action will be taken.