Eleven EDMOs have been issued
In June 2006 local authorities in England and Wales were given powers to take over and rent out properties which had been empty for at least six months.
The government predicted that Empty Dwelling Management Orders or 'EDMOs' could bring around one thousand properties a year back into use.
Independent campaigning charity the Empty Homes Agency believe around 280,000 properties in England have been unoccupied for that length of time.
But according to the Residential Property Tribunal Service, which grants the orders, only eleven EDMOs have so far been issued.
What do you think about EDMOs?
Do you own or live close to an empty property?
Would you welcome the use of EDMOs?
Is it fair that local authorities have such powers?
Would you be happy to rent a property which had been taken over by a local authority?
We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below.
The debate is now closed.
Why not charge double council tax for any home left empty for more than, say, one year? Maybe hitting landlords in the pocket would make them act.
Victor Fraser, Tadworth
The EDMO powers are complex and pose a high financial risk for local authorities without a long term future for each case, as the properties have to be returned to their owners. Far better are the existing powers for compulsory purchase (although the government seems a bit reluctant to endorse this approach). The London Borough of Newham have made over 300 compulsory purchase orders in the last 10 years relating to empty properties, with 10% of those eventually acquired by the Council brought back into use for key workers and homeless families through partnerships with Housing Associations (registered social landlords) - on behalf of Private Sector Housing Group London Borough Newham.
Ian Dick, East London
The actual procedure for EDMOs is not as meaningful or Draconian as suggested. If a Council believes that a property comes within the criteria (there are various exemptions) it must contact the landlord and attempt to get their agreement to let the property out or to dispose of it. If that fails the Council must then apply to the RPTS for consideration of an interim EDMO. The Council must if at all possible obtain the landlords consent and the rent for the property must be the market rent - not at social housing level. It would be a shorthold tenancy. The EDMO will last for 12 months in the first instance. After the interim period the RPTS may consider a final EDMO if the landlord has failed to take reasonable measures to control manage or sell their property. The Council would in the first instance have to undertake any necessary repairs out of Council funds they may deduct management costs and other expenses from the rent and then pay the balance to the landlord.
We live next door to a property which has been empty since the late 1980's. The owner visits on almost a daily basis, very rarely stays longer than 20 to 30 minutes. He has had all utilities disconnected so the property gets no heat or drying out and I understand he does not have to pay any charges or taxes. He regularly empties buckets of rain water down an outside drain and has been unsuccessful with his botched DIY repairs to the flat roofed extension. The local council maintain that they have no power to intervene and make him repair the property. So far it is not boarded up which I'm sure has influenced the officers decision. We can only wait until our property is affected then take action to redress the situation.
J Cockroft, Halifax
I live next door to what was a very attractive detached bungalow which has been gutted of all furnishings and fittings (i.e. kitchen and bathroom are now bare walls). The owner had previously been given money by the local council for alteration and refurbishment which was partially completed. The owner of the property has now left the bungalow empty and unattended for at least 2 years despite efforts by a local councillor and the immediate neighbours. She petitioned the council to be re-homed in a council house. This was refused as she was already the owner of a property which she deliberately had rendered uninhabitable. Consequently we have discovered she has been awarded a council house and now this neighbourhood is blighted by this total eyesore which includes two derelict cars in the front garden.
This is the first I've heard about EDMOs and I wish that local authorities would act on them. Of course councils should take the properties over and rent them out, instead of going through costly schemes of building new affordable housing. In my village there are at least three properties uninhabited and not up for sale. One is adjoined to my house. All three properties are not maintained and are an eyesore to what is a beautiful Welsh village. They are not even "holiday homes". (The fate of many of the houses bought and sold here). In the current circumstances it's a disgrace that our council are speculating on building 5 - 12 new affordable houses with new drainage systems etc on greenfield sites in the Snowdonia National Park. Why not take over the empty houses instead? It makes so much more sense - particularly in light of environmental issues.
I do not own an empty property, nor do I know of any local to me. I am appalled by the concept of EDMOs. What does ownership mean, after all? Surely one has the right to deal with one's assets as one wishes. (Here, I agree, of course, that sometimes the conduct of owners of houses and apartments is governed by a set of covenants, e.g. not to hang out washing.) Moneybox gave few details about the EDMO scheme, and to me it sounds like legalised theft of privately owned property! There are many issues involved here. For example, if an empty property is rented out, the rents received should be paid to the owner of the property. And surely the tenants should not have an automatic right to remain in residence if the owner wishes to have the property back. Where a property is let by an owner, often through an estate agent, the tenants normally sign a 6- or 12-month letting agreement. An EDMO can apparently be made after a property has been empty for just 6 months. Owners, beware! It seems that you do not own the property you thought you owned - you need legal protection!
Elisabeth, Leighton Buzzard
Of course local authorities must confiscate empty properties. The house next door to me, along with many others locally has stood empty for over ten years. This is having a detrimental effect on my home. Empty properties are a blot on the landscape, a loss of revenue to the councils and lower the standard of life to local residents.
Tony, West Midlands
This is only scraping the surface: Firstly - the issue of "holiday/second homes" has created a major issue in many rural communities and this is not addressed. Secondly - no mention of the thousands of ex MoD properties (many sold in a closed deal to an American Company I believe) which have been empty for years - and remain empty.
This happened in my block in central London It was bought by a lady from Hong Kong many years back but she never lived here. It was taken over about 2 years back by the Council and who was housed in it? A family from Eastern Europe who are now living there in legally overcrowded conditions with the council turning a blind eye. What chance local indigenous single or married people?
The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.