Empty homes

We define a long-term empty home as a residential property that has been left unoccupied for six months or more.

Bringing long-term empty homes back into use is a national priority to make better use of the existing housing stock. On a local level, housing within the Borough is in short supply. Long-term empty homes represent a wasted resource and can have a serious negative impact on local communities.

We are working with owners of properties and with local communities to make long-term empty properties a thing of the past.

To find out more, please see our Housing strategies web page where you can scroll down to read our Empty Homes Strategy and Empty Homes Action Plan.

Before you report an empty home

Empty homes can sometimes cause other concerns such as those related to the condition of the property or activities connected to it. These are dealt with by different Council services, please contact:  

In line with the Empty Homes Strategy, unless there are exceptional circumstances, we do not take enforcement action against owners who are residing in a care home or have moved to receive or provide care. If the results of our inquiries reveal this to be the case, it is very unlikely any further action will be taken.

Reporting an empty home

Please only report a residential property that has been empty for more than six months and of which we might not be aware. If you know the empty property belongs to a Housing Association, please contact them directly in addition to submitting your report to the Housing Strategy Team.

Once received, your report will be acknowledged and then investigated in line with the processes and priorities outlined in the Council’s Empty Homes Strategy. If the investigations undertaken do not conclusively determine the property reported is an empty home, no further action will be taken.

Our work to facilitate bringing empty homes back into use can be a lengthy process - sometimes involving complicated and/or confidential discussions with property owners. This often means bringing a property back into use can take a number of years.

If you believe a property has been left empty for more than six months and would like to report it to us for further investigation under the Empty Homes Programme please contact the Housing Strategy Team at housing.strategy@bedford.gov.uk.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • The full address of the empty property you are reporting.
  • The name of the owner (if known).
  • The date you believe it became vacant.
  • A brief description of the condition of the empty premises.
  • The reason it became empty (if known).

Please note if you do report an empty home, the information provided may be used by the Council, should enforcement action become necessary, to bring the property back into occupation. In your email, please state whether you would be prepared to make a formal statement or give evidence if necessary.

If you have any questions about our work in bringing long-term empty homes back in to use, or if you own an empty property and you are seeking advice, please contact the Housing Strategy Team at housing.strategy@bedford.gov.uk.

What we can offer owners of empty properties

We are committed to bringing long-term empty properties back into use. We do this by offering to owners:

  • free advice and support with renting out property
  • a free tenancy deposit guarantee scheme
  • free identification of suitable tenants for properties in the scheme

Planning advice may be needed in some cases. There may be a charge for this. For more information, please visit our planning section.

Rent your property through the Council


Bedford Borough Council is looking for all types of property and is offering a range of great incentives, free advice and support so please call us now for a free no obligation rent valuation.

No fees, free tenant introduction service, tenancy deposit scheme, rent assurance for 12 months, professional management service, tenancy support.

Action we can take

Where an owner persistently leaves a property empty, we have a range of powers to bring it back into use including Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)

Council Tax and empty properties

Unless the property is exempt, Council Tax is charged for empty homes. Please visit our Council Tax on empty properties page for more information. 

Please note for persons interested in purchasing an empty property, GDPR legislation means that the Council cannot disclose details of empty homes owned by individuals.