Bradford Council explains why it is buying empty homes and selling them at auction

Buying up long vacant properties and re-selling them at auction is one of the ways Bradford Council is attempting to fill the 3,400 empty homes in the district.

In a recent update on Bradford’s thousands of empty homes, councillors were told why so many derelict properties owned by Bradford Council were going to auction – often with very low guide prices. One such property – 8 Old Road, is listed in an online auction taking place on Tuesday (Sep 12). The cottage, which still has an outhouse to the front of the property, has a guide price of just £25,000.

Members of the Council’s regeneration and environment scrutiny committee received an update on empty homes in Bradford at a meeting earlier this month. A report to members said there were 3,416 long term empty properties in Bradford at the last count, compared with 7,302 long term empty properties in 2009.

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Of these 2,481 were owned by people who only own one property. The report said the most common reasons for homes lying empty was issue to do with inheritance, a family or relationship breakdown or older people going into care.

8 Old Road in Bradford, which has been sold on by Bradford Council8 Old Road in Bradford, which has been sold on by Bradford Council
8 Old Road in Bradford, which has been sold on by Bradford Council

Officers told councillors one way of trying to encourage people to bring empty homes they owned back into use was charging extra Council tax on long empty properties. The longer they are empty, the more Council tax they pay.

The council often advises people to sell their homes, but some lack the “organisational skills” to do so. It can then offer to buy the property at market value, then sell it to bring it back into use. If a property owner is unwilling to sell, the council can force them to sell through a compulsory purchase order.

Since 2010, the council’s housing service has voluntarily acquired 53 properties and compulsorily purchased 47 properties. Councillors pointed out many of these properties were sold in a very poor state, and asked why the authority didn’t spen money refurbishing them so they would get a better price at auction.

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David North, head of housing operations, said: “Our approach is to sell it as it is, for the value it is worth. We used to renovate homes before we sold them, but from a financial point of view this was not viable to do the work and hire contractors. We have to re-coup what we invested.

“If we sell it as it is, it is a blank canvas. If you spend money putting a new bathroom in it might not be what every potential purchaser wants. If they buy it as it is they can do what they want to it. They might want their own contractors working on it. It works out better to sell these homes as they are.”

When asked why the council didn’t just keep the properties for its own housing stock, Mr North said due to the properties being spread out across the district, rather than concentrated in certain areas, it would make maintaining the homes much more difficult for the authority.

Bradford Council confirmed the Old Road property going to auction had come into the council’s ownership through a compulsory purchase order. For more information on the auction visit