Reviewing long term empty properties

The 2017 Local Government Finance Statistical Release reported that there were a total of 443,000 empty dwellings across England in September 2016. Of these, 59,000 (13%) dwellings were subject to an additional premium because the dwelling had been empty for 2 years or more.

To help tackle the shortfall in national housing, the council is undertaking an evidence based review of empty properties, using a combination of council data, third party data sources and specialist validation services. This is to:

  • Reaffirm the discount for genuine claimants efficiently and accurately.
  • Remove ineligible or erroneous claims.
  • Fulfil our duty to maintain accurate records for Council Tax.

How do Bradford Council and Experian check if a property is empty or occupied?

In order to do this, accounts that have been recorded on our systems as empty for six months or more are passed to Experian who do a search against the property and not the individual. No Credit Checks are undertaken against an individual. Experian then compare these addresses against a variety of data sources including:

  • The Electoral Register (full or edited, dependent on reason for use)
  • Credit Account Information Sharing (CAIS) file
  • Credit Application Previous Search information (CAPS)
  • Address Links
  • Mortality Data
  • Alias and Associations Data

What information do Experian provide to Bradford Council?

The Empty Property Verification Service provided by Experian provides a picture of the residency make up of an address. This allows Bradford Council to identify potential residents and engage with households where the properties could be occupied and update the Council Tax record where necessary. Experian provides the following information:

  • A risk indicator, ie high, medium, low or blank to indicate nil risk
  • The details of up to 5 potential residents; this includes:
    1. Name and date of birth (High and Medium risk cases only)
    2. Residency start and confirmations date
    3. Residency Score

Bradford Council are not provided with an indication of what type of records have associated the adult to the property eg electoral register, address links etc.

Does this not breach the Data Protection Act?

All personal data is processed in line with current legislation. To find out more, view our privacy notice online. You can also view our privacy notice specific to Council Tax.

I have received a visit from a visiting officer in relation to the empty property review. Is this genuine?

An officer from Bradford Council may visit the property to determine the occupancy status of a property for those who have not responded to our request for information. 

What do I need to tell the council?

Depending on your circumstances, you can either:

I own an empty property - is there any help available to bring it back in to use?

Yes - for more information about empty properties and what help is available to bring them back in to use, please see the empty homes area of our website.

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