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Local authorities are equipped with a range of powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes, including those that are derelict. Through the New Homes Bonus, they earn the same financial reward for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one. Billing authorities have the discretion to charge up to 100 per cent extra council tax – on top of the standard bill – on properties that have been empty for at least two years.
In certain circumstances, local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to temporarily take over the management of a property that has been empty for more than two years and bring it back into use. Local authorities have a variety of compulsory purchase powers which they can use to acquire and develop derelict or empty property, including for housing purposes. However, compulsory purchase is intended for use as a last resort and there must always be a compelling case in the public interest.