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Empty and derelict properties

Report an empty property or find out how to bring your empty property back into use.
Planning service charges

Planning services have introduced new charges for withdrawing planning applications that have not been validated. These charges are to recover administrative costs. The charge for Non-Major applications is £41.67 (£50 including VAT) and for Major applications, it is £125 (£150 including VAT).

We work with empty property owners to bring empty properties back into use and take enforcement action when empty properties fall into disrepair or cause problems for the local community.  

Empty properties tend to have a negative effect on the surrounding area, suffer from disrepair, vandalism, and pests, and often attract antisocial behaviour. They also remove a valuable source of housing for our community and negatively affect adjacent properties.

Empty properties come in several different forms and could include:

  • derelict or abandoned house or flats
  • empty second homes or holiday homes
  • unoccupied properties purchased as investments
  • unused flats or accommodation attached to shops and restaurants

Not all properties will be classed as empty homes as they may be unoccupied for legitimate reasons such as building work, probate, or the owner may be working away from home.

It is sometimes difficult to tell if a property is unoccupied, tell-tale signs may include:

  • disrepair to the exterior and windows
  • boarded-up windows or doors
  • no evidence of comings or goings
  • accumulation of post
  • no lights on in the property
  • enhanced security measures
  • no waste collection

Report an empty property

If you believe a property may be empty long term, please email emptyhomes@lewisham.gov.uk or call us on 020 8314 6622.

Bring your empty property back into use

We aim to work with empty property owners to bring properties back into residential use, ideally opening them up to the rental market to provide much needed housing for our community. If you own an empty or derelict property, contact us and we can help you through empty property loans and/or grants. In cases where owners are not willing to engage there are also a range of enforcement measures that can be used, such as taking over management of the property or using compulsory purchase orders or enforced sale.

VAT discounts

Bringing empty properties back into use can be costly. Owners can benefit from a reduced rate of VAT if a property has been vacant for more than 2 years is brought back into use - reduced to 5%. Renovation work to properties empty for over 10 years will be zero-rated if you intend to live in the property yourself. The Council can support you by providing relevant documentation to provide to HMRC. A reduced VAT rate also applies to the installation of certain specified energy-saving materials and measures in residential accommodation.

Finding empty property owners

Most empty properties are privately owned. You can check the ownership of a property at the Land Registry website.


Empty Homes Team

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