Empty homes

Closed 1 Apr 2024

Opened 26 Feb 2024

Feedback updated 3 May 2024

We asked

It is well documented and experienced by people living in the city that there is a shortage of available housing of all tenures. To get a better understanding of people’s experience and view of how we should tackle the city’s housing shortage, awareness of empty dwellings in the city and persons affected.

We also asked what your thoughts were on whether the council should intervene by contacting owners of empty dwellings.

You said

From the responses we can see that over 60% were aware of empty dwellings and that they had or knew of people who had experienced problems finding housing. This providing affirmation that people in the city are having problems finding a home.

Over 60% said you felt it appropriate for the council to intervene or contact owners of empty dwellings to ensure they are brought back into use. Those who did not agree reflected on time scales for renovation work and that it was not for the council to interfere in the private interests of an individual.

We did

The consultation has been successful in providing us with an understanding of individuals experiences and perceptions of empty dwellings in the city. This in turn helps us to react accordingly.

Further publicity and explanations around the topic are required to support an understanding, describe and explain why the council is keen to ensure no empty dwelling is left vacant without good cause.

The council is committed to providing advice and support to owners of empty dwellings rather than taking formal action. Please visit our empty homes webpage which provides reasons why the council is concerned about dwellings left vacant and what it can do to help.

Where a property has been empty for over 2 years the council endeavour to work with the owners to bring them back into use. Only if it seems that the owner is either unable or unwilling or where there are public health issues will the council consider stepping in and using formal action. The key to any action taken by the council is to assist in housing provision within the city.


Oxford City has a severe housing shortage for dwellings of all tenure; privately owned, rented, social and student accommodation.  

With few brownfield sites left within the city there is very little option to build new housing, including affordable housing.  The Councils’ Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2023 makes a commitment to providing more homes, including bringing empty homes back into use. 

Nationally it was recognised by the government of the time that it was important to introduce legislation within the Housing Act 2004, to enable housing authorities/councils to ensure that empty dwellings are brought back into use. 

The council records all dwellings as they become vacant and, since 2017, have been able to charge a premium of different levies in addition to the usual council tax charge for a property.  

The below table details the numbers of empty dwellings in both years. There are usually around 600 dwellings which have been empty for over 6-months.  

Empty Home Category and figures as of 14th February 2024. Premium 2, additional 300% council tax (empty over 10 years) = 10. Premium 1, additional 200% council tax (empty between 5-10 years) = 31. Premium. additional 100% council tax (empty 2-5 years) =108. Empty 6 months-2years = 432. Exemption F (owner deceased empty over 12 months) = 114.

The council acknowledge that there is often a genuine reason for the dwelling to be unoccupied. However, there are exceptions to this and when it becomes apparent that an owner is either unable or unwilling to bring their property back into use, then in these cases, formal action may be considered. 


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