Empty homes

At any time, approximately 2% percentage of the housing stock will be vacant, for a range of reasons.

These reasons are often complex, but a home could be:

  • Pending sale
  • Pending re-let
  • Undergoing repairs
  • Awaiting probate on death of the owner
  • Vacant where an occupier has move to residential care
  • Abandonment
  • In an undesirable location
  • Under the requirements of a legal notice served by the Council

Whilst a home is vacant, the Council will not take action if: 

  • It remains secure and in a reasonable condition
  • Any gardens do not become severely overgrown
  • Waste is not dumped or allowed to accumulate

Report an empty home

  • It remains vacant longer term and is not maintained
  • Is not kept secure against unauthorised entry
  • Is causing damage to neighbouring homes, e.g. due to defective guttering 
  • Gardens are allowed to become overgrown
  • You see signs of vandalism, squatting, fly tipping and other antisocial activity

Report an empty home

If a home is causing a nuisance to neighbours, is insecure, has waste accumulations or is considered to be an untidy site then we may take enforcement action.

Our enforcement approach to empty homes is set out in our published Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Civil Penalties Policy

Report an empty home

If you own an empty home

  • You could be liable to pay increased Council Tax charges
  • Your home could be liable to vandalism, arson and squatting
  • You could be losing rental income and paying increased insurance premiums

The Council may be able to help you get it brought back in to use.

Colchester Borough Homes operate two schemes for private home owners:

  • Private Sector Leasing scheme
  • HomeStep scheme

Find out more about these schemes

If you need help in knowing what works are required to make your empty home suitable for letting, we offer a paid-for advice service for landlords.

Find out more about the advisory service for landlords

Please note the council is unable to publish or provide a list of empty homes.

Page last reviewed: 3 January 2024


Subscribe to receive updates on Council news, events and offers, green living, leisure and sport, museums, committees, jobs and more.