Empty homes

Empty homes policy, impacts of empty homes, reporting an empty home, action we will take.

Haringey has a policy of encouraging owners of empty homes to bring them back into use. We would like to work with homeowners to assist them with this process. We can offer advice and guidance to anyone who has an empty home they wish to bring back into use but are not sure how best to go about it.

Read our empty homes policy

Reporting an empty home

If you would like to report an empty home in your neighbourhood or you want any further information you can do so by emailing empty.properties@haringey.gov.uk.

Environmental impact of leaving a property empty

Leaving a property empty means it can fall into disrepair, attract vandalism, crime, rubbish-dumping and anti-social behavior (ASB). Properties then become a nuisance to neighbours and an eyesore within the community.

Long-term empty homes and those which become a nuisance or eyesore become a priority for the council, to take action through the use of various enforcement powers.

The council can issue formal notices on empty homeowners who create nuisance and or neglect their homes. Should an owner not comply with a formal notice the council may undertake works in default of an owner and place a charge on the property, resulting in a debt owed against the property owner. 

Financial implications of having an empty home

You could be receiving a rental income by renting on the private rental market rather than leaving your home empty.

You could lease your empty home to the council and provide a resident with a much-needed place to live – for further details visit the private sector letting page.

You could have increased insurance premiums by owning an empty property.

You are at risk of squatters who often cause huge amounts of damage to a property.

You will have to pay full Council Tax which increases to twice the normal amount after 2 years, 3 times the normal amount after 5 years and 5 times the normal amount after 10 years, making owning and empty property very expensive.


Properties left empty for any length of time are also at risk from becoming squatted. The Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 section 144 changed the law with regard to the squatting of residential properties. Owners of residential (not commercial) properties no longer need to go to court to evict squatters.

The police will help you to remove people from your house/flat if you can prove that you are the rightful owner. However squatters can do a substantial amount of damage in a short time and will often throw out furniture and possessions left in a property to make way for their own possessions. Keeping a property in use is the best way to avoid having squatters

Action the council can take against owners of empty homes

Long-term empty homes and those causing a nuisance will not be tolerated. Haringey has an active enforcement program for empty homes. Empty homes cause problems within neighbourhoods as they attract crime, vandalism and fly tipping. Often creating an eyesore within a road which can affect neighbouring properties and the overall neighbourhood.

Every owner should be aware that:

  • those who persist in not bringing empty homes back into use will be subject to the council’s empty home enforcement policy and procedures
  • those who fail to manage their empty homes will result in the council taking enforcement action against them e.g., allowing land and foliage to become overgrown which can affect neighbouring properties or the highway, pest issues, fly tipping or security issues
  • those who have outstanding debt on their empty homes, e.g. outstanding Council Tax debt, can be subject to an enforced sale
  • those who have a long-term empty homes that are causing a nuisance or are an eyesore may result in the compulsory purchase of that property

Enforcement measures

Serving of enforcement notices

Enforcement proceedings will be taken against owners if the council have to intervene to clear properties of waste and or board empty homes to prevent access.

Forcing the sale of your home

Enforced sale is used where there is an outstanding debt on the property either through unpaid Council Tax or where the council has carried out work in default after statutory notices have not been complied with.

The council applies to the court for an order of sale and if the debt goes unpaid, this is granted. These properties are then taken possession of using a bailiff and they then go to auction.

Compulsory purchase

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) are used when there is no debt on the property but where the council can satisfy the Secretary of State that the owner has made no attempt to bring their property back into use themselves. 

See the guidance on compulsory purchase orders GOV.UK.

Case studies

Haringey Council currently has 43 properties that Council Cabinet has approved for Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) and 6 of these have had to be sent to the Secretary of State for confirmation of the CPO. These properties have been taken possession of by Haringey and sold onto either Housing Associations or sold on the open market to people who are in the process of renovating them to be occupied once again.