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Help is available if you own an empty property, want to report an empty property in the borough.

Are you an owner of an empty property?

Richmond Council are currently promoting an empty property strategy in the Borough, encouraging owners of empty properties to bring them back into residential use.


Grants are available for some renovation works. To any freeholder or leaseholder (with over five years of their lease to run) for a property that has been vacant for a period of six months or more.


  • One grant payment is allowed per owner, per financial year or a maximum of five grants if units are at the same address
  • The applicant must not have been successfully prosecuted by Richmond Council in respect of any offence relating to Housing Benefit, Council Tax, Tenancy Relations or Private Housing legislation within five years prior to the date of the application
  • For offences of serious fraud, this period will be extended to ten years. There must also be no significant arrears of Council Tax or, in the case of ex-Council dwellings, Service Charges. 
    • Conditions: The council will grant aid eligible costs for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwelling up to a maximum of £25,000
  • The grant can only be approved where the owner agrees to the following on completion of the works:

How to make an application

Please complete and submit the Grant Application form required with copies of the requested proof documentation.  If you require any advice or support please not hesitate to contact the empty property officer directly.


Additional information to be submitted

Estimates from two separate contractors are required to be submitted as part of the full application. The estimates should be written on headed paper, signed and dated. VAT registration numbers should be provided. It is strongly recommended that you employ a surveyor/architect to draw up a detailed itemised schedule of works (including material quantities) to which your contractors can base their estimates on. Costings must be provided for each item on the schedule of works. It is not acceptable to provide an estimate with a single sum total of all items of work.

Letting Schemes Available

Private Sector Leasing Scheme (PSL) 

We can offer:

  • Guaranteed rent, paid to landlord monthly, for the period of the lease regardless of any void periods (rent assessed subject to inspection)
  • A lease agreement (between you and the council) for 3 1/2 years
  • Full management and repairs service (including weekends/evenings)
  • Regular inspections
  • Property is returned at end of lease in its original condition (excepting fair wear and tear)

Alternatively -

Rent Deposit Scheme (RDS)

We will find you a tenant through our Rent Deposit Scheme. We can also offer:

  • A free professional service.
  • Property inspection.
  • Upfront incentive payment.
  • Rent in advance payment.
  • We request direct-to-landlord Housing Benefit payments in all cases.
  • A dedicated team of experienced officers.
  • Tenancy advice and support if required.
  • Free tenancy agreement.

When we find you a tenant through the Rent Deposit Scheme, the rent we can offer for each property must be within the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

These rates are reviewed each financial year. View Local Housing Allowance rates on the Direct Gov web page for confirmation of the LHA level in your area. Email our temporary accommodation team who manage these and other schemes such as the short term leasing scheme on

Report an empty property

You can report a house or flat which has been empty for over 12 months by:

Information we require is the full address including post code. We will then investigate and contact the owner to try to bring the property back into use.  Enforcement powers may be used, where appropriate.

Empty property FOI requests - Empty Property list

We are frequently asked for addresses of empty properties within the borough but these are exempt from disclosure under FOI under S31 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the prevention or detection of crime) and S40 (3) (a) (i) (personal data).

Register online with HM Land Registry to obtain information on the owner(s) of registered property and land in the UK.

Council Tax Premium for empty and unfurnished properties 

Find out if your property is exempt from Council Tax and how to apply for an exemption.

A property may be exempt from Council Tax if it is empty.

Reduced rating the renovation or alteration of empty residential premises

If a contractor carries out work to an existing building they will normally have to charge VAT at the standard rate. They may be able to charge VAT at the reduced rate of 5% if you’re renovating or altering either:

  • An eligible dwelling that has not been lived in during the 2 years immediately before your work starts (although there are exceptions)
  • Premises intended for use solely for a ‘relevant residential purpose’ that have not been lived in during the 2 years immediately before you start your work

See the government guidance to make sure you meet the necessary requirements required before applying for a verification letter.

You will require proof that a premises has been empty for 2 years to attract the VAT reduce rate. This can be obtained from our Council Tax department directly.

London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Council Tax Service
PO Box 72388
SW18 9PL

Telephone: 020 8891 1411

Foxes, wildlife and overgrown gardens

Often issues arise regarding foxes, wildlife and overgrown gardens unfortunately we are unable to take action regarding these matters but can offer advice or mediation regarding issues with overgrown hedges.  

Other relevant links

Updated: 23 June 2021

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