Empty Properties

Empty properties can be unsightly and cause a health and safety risk.  Properties which are left unattended and are not checked regularly can soon fall into disrepair and improvements can become too expensive to carry out.  

These run down properties cause nuisance and annoyance to nearby residents.  They can devalue other house prices in the area and can attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour, especially if they become unsecure.

What can you do?

Owning an empty property can be an expensive option. They are often a target for vandalism, graffiti and other criminal activity and as an owner you might be faced with the cost of:

  • Insurance
  • Council Tax
  • Security measures
  • Regular inspections
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Renovation
  • Depreciation

You are also missing out on the potential income from letting or selling the property.

Selling your property

If you wish to sell your property the local housing market is well served by numerous estate agents located in the town.

For those agents registered with the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) you can find their details on the NAEA website [external link] under “Find a Member”

Specialist websites include: 

(Darlington Borough Council does not approve or endorse these sites or companies.)

Over 25,000 properties are sold at auctions every year and if your property proves difficult to sell this could be a quick and decisive alternative. The great advantage is that auctions have a captured audience of developers, portfolio landlords and property investors.

Details of upcoming auctions [external link]

Letting your property

You may prefer to let your property to receive a regular income. We provide advice on the responsibilities of owning and maintaining property and becoming a landlord. Becoming a landlord is not too difficult if you get good advice.

If you would like direct assistance with finding tenants to rent your property contact the Council’s Housing Options Team on 01325 388542. It is also possible to have your property listed on COMPASS [external link].

For independent advice and assistance you can contact:

  • Accreditation Network UK (ANUK) [external link] promotes accreditation in the private rented sector and has worked with the Improvement and Development Agency (I&DeA) to produce a Landlord Development Manual.
  • You may prefer to let your property through a residential letting agency. Fees and services will vary and to help with the selection of a suitable agency you may wish to contact the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). They promote quality standards for letting and management agents, offering peace of mind to both landlords and tenants. Telephone 01242 581712, or visit the NALS website [external link]
  • Alternatively you could contact the Association of Residential Landlords (ARLA) which self regulates letting agents, arranges training for landlords, and provides information and guidance for both landlords and tenants.
    Telephone 0845 345 5752, or visit the ARLA website [external link]

Renovating your property

The Government has reduced the level of VAT for the renovation of certain empty properties as an incentive to bring them back into use. Further information on this reduced rate can be found in Section 8 of Public Notice 708 – VAT: Buildings and Construction, available from the National Advice Service on 0845 0109000 or downloadable from HMRC website [external link]

You may wish to contact the following Respected Trade Bodies:

The Private Sector Housing Team

We can secure empty homes in certain circumstances and we may also be able to help with empty properties that are materially affecting neighbouring properties such as a leaking gutter or a damp problem. Please contact Customer Services on 01325 388799 or email the Private Sector Housing Team at housingrenewal@darlington.gov.uk  

The Environmental Health Team

If you have a complaint about waste/rubbish at an empty residential property or if you have a complaint about an empty commercial property such as a vacant shop or business property please contact Customer Services on 01325 388799 or email the Environmental Health Team at environmentalhealth@darlington.gov.uk  

The Planning Services

If you have a complaint about an empty property that is unsightly or may be in an run down condition and may be affecting the local area please contact Customer Services on 01325 388799 or email Planning Services at planning.enquiries@darlington.gov.uk  

Council Tax / Business Rates

If you have a query about council tax charges for your empty property please contact Customer Services on 01325 388799 or email the Revenues Team at revenue.queries@darlington.gov.uk