Empty Homes Network

National Empty Homes Conference,
May 29th 2012, Birmingham

29 May 2012 10:00
Event Description: 

The Draft Programme for this essential event  has now been published - and we've kept costs even lower than last year, with big discounts for full Members of the Empty Homes Network.  See the attached Booking Form for further details.

We're pleased to announce that Andrew Stunell MP will be speaking and has offered to address questions submitted by our practitioners (you can register your questions here).

Others speakers include representatives from key organisations such as :

  • Homes and Communities Agency
  • Empty Homes
  • self-help-housing.org (Community Grants Programme)

We have practice sessions lined up on

  • councl tax
  • good service of notices
  • EDMOs
  • Empty Homes Strategies

We  expect to see new partnership schemes being presented by

  • GraftonLtd with Dave Stott (tracing agents and enforced sales)
  • Dee Rentals (new leasing options)
  • House Doctor (new options for owners)
  • Paul Palmer and Get Wise Gruoup leasing/sjupportedl housing options)

And of course, we will have our Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year Award

We have booked our conference venue at Maple House, Birmingham.  The venue provider is the same as for our joint London Conference in 2011. You can proceed with confidence that this is indeed  the date of the Empty Homes National Conference.

With budget cuts and ever-higher travel costs, we know that keeping the cost of attending as low as possible will be a big consideration.  The costs of delegate places will be comparable with previous years, as low as £115 for full members of the Empty Homes Network and with special options for small organisations.

You can minimise your travel costs by, for example coming the night before. Travelodge rooms in central Birmingham are currently available for 28th May (ie the night before the Conference) at £33 per night (as at 11th May).  (We have no commercial relationship with Travelodge).

To book your place, simply download the booking form, complete and return to events@ehnetwork.org.uk

Contact details: 

Enquiries can be sent to events@ehnetwork.org.uk

Government issues guidance on definitions of empty homes and second homes

The Department of Communities and Local Government has issued a letter to clarify the definitions of empty homes and second homes.  The letter, signed by Hülya Mustafa, a Deputy Director for Council Tax, seems to have been prompted by concerns about avoidance, whereby otherwise empty homes have furniture put in them specifically to avoid the Empty Homes Premium.

Incidence of avoidance

The letter is keen to point out that there is little evidence for people introducing furniture into properties to avoid paying the Empty Homes Premium. Anecdotal evidence from around the country generally seems to support that view but members with different experience or concrete data to report are encouraged to add a Comment to this story accordingly. You'll need to log in to do so.

Who decides

As regards the meanings of "unoccupied" and "substantially unfurnished" the letter emphasises the central role of local authorities' views along with the views of any court that might decide on the issue, and indicates that the courts would treat the matter on its own merits, as "a matter of fact", rather than deferring to the government's guidance. 

In adopting this position, DCLG is not being evasive: this can be considered the normal and appropriate government stance in circumstances where there is no statutory guidance or any powers to issue such guidance.Were it to do more, it could rightly be criticised for over-stepping the limits of executive authority.


As far as it goes, the specific government advice on determining whether a dwelling is  "substantiallly unfurnished" and/or unoccupied runs as follows:

A property which is substantially unfurnished is unlikely to be occupied or be capable of occupation. A property which is capable of occupation can reasonably be expected to contain some, if not all, items from both of the following categories: furniture such as bed, chairs, table, wardrobe or sofa, and white goods such as fridge, freezer or cooker.

Where a property is said to be occupied it will be reasonable for the local authority to cross-check with the electoral roll , or ask for evidence, such as utility bills showing usage of services, driving licence as proof of address, or receipts or other proof of moving costs.

Reference is made to other guidance but the letter does not contain hyperlinks to the documents mentioned such as the advisory notes related to properties for letting or for sale (accessible via our library here).


As regards tax evasion rather than tax avoidance, the letter points out that there are civil penalties attached to people deliberately  supplying false information. Under the council tax legislation there is a fixed civil penalty of £50.  It also notes that the Theft Act 1968 applies to council tax though it does not elaborate as no doubt the position will be clear to those in Council Tax departments who are presumably the target readership. The following notes from LB of Merton spell it out:

The Theft Act 1968 also applies to Council Tax where a person presents information which they know to be false with a view to obtaining a financial benefit to which they are not entitled. You could be subject to prosecution for obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.

EHN emerging policy

The letter expresses the current position as seen through government eyes. But what would be the preferred position? EHN policy, as elaborated to date though not formally adopted, would be as follows:

  • drop the distinction between second homes and empty homes by removing the criterion around the presence of furniture
  • therefore distinguish only between homes that are occupied as someone's main residence and homes that are not (the latter could be "second homes" or "empty homes")
  • apply Empty Homes Premium after 1 year not 2 and at a rate of up to 100%
  • apply EHP to all homes that are not primary residences - thus "second homes" too.

In addition, we would expect to support a tighter definition of "occupied as a main residence". The current definition of 6 weeks occupation, i.e. 42 days over a period of 2 years would mean the property would need to be occupied for just under 6% of the time to avoid the Premium.  In the context of incentivising best use of our housing stock that seems too small and we would suggest that the period is increased to 3 months.  If the qualifying time were reduced to 1 year, then that would represent a "25% occupancy" criterion, hardly draconian.

You can access the letter via our library from here.

Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Partnership Award 2014

This partnership award was the final one to be presented in our Empty Homes Awards 2014 ceremony, (ceremony sponsored by Grafton UK Ltd).

It was a new award, sponsored jointly by Habitat for Humanity and self-help-housing.org (with support from the Housing Association Charitable Trust) and the competition was fierce - so fierce in fact that the judges had great difficulty in pulling out a winner.  Eventually it was decided to declare joint winners, withe honours shared between the Hull Empty Homes Partnership and Rochdale Borough Council and Groundwork.  And the panel also recognised the submisson of Emmaus Salford and Salford City Council with a "Highly Commended" award.

On this page:

So to the submissions:

Hull's Empty Homes Partnership


Hull Empty Homes Partnership was established in 2012 in response to the government’s launch of funding to tackle empty homes. The partnership originally included five community sector organisations and Hull City Council. The initial aim of the partnership was to maximise the funding achieved to tackle the exceptionally high levels of private sector empty homes in the city. Recognising the far-reaching benefits of tackling empty properties, Hull City Council supported all community partner bids through the community route, as well as submitting its own bids through the Registered Provider routes.

Upon news of all organisations succeeding in their bids, the partnership continued into the delivery of the schemes. The partnership included Giroscope; WINNER; PANDA; DISC; Probe; and Hull City Council. Regular meetings were established and all partners committed to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (available at Appendix 1).

Following successful delivery under round 1, with more than 80 units achieved in the first year, the Council, four of the original partners and one new partner successfully bid to round 2 of the Empty Homes Programme. Goodwin Community Housing then joined which completed the partnership and the seven organisations continue to work together today. Each organisation has its own social aims and operates in specific localities. Detailed information on each partner is set out at Appendix 2.

The partnership champions the provision of quality affordable housing from the existing stock. All properties are refurbished to the Decent Homes Standard and are managed and maintained by the partners. This increases the supply of quality housing in the city and improves neighbourhoods through the reduction of empty homes. Additionally the partnership creates employment, apprenticeships and training opportunities with many partners providing placements for specific groups including people who are long-term unemployed and those who have recently left prison for example.

Funding and Outputs

Almost £16 million of funding has been secured to create 617 units of housing from empty properties in the city. The table at Appendix 3 sets out levels of funding secured by each partner and their targets for numbers of units.


The partnership delivers a co-ordinated approach to tackling empty properties across the city. Each partner has defined the geographic areas in which they are focused and the products which they can offer to property owners. Some organisations offer a mix of purchase and leases and others are focused on one route. In addition to the two acquisition options, owners can also take out an interest free loan to bring their property back into use. The partners’ products complement one another enabling a holistic approach to tackling empty properties.

Hull City Council utilises Council Tax data to identify empty homes and corresponds with owners. The owners contact the Council and express their preferred option and their written consent is obtained. A referral is then made to the community partner organisations. Where owners refuse to bring their properties back into use the Council takes enforcement action to ensure that they do so. To date this has resulted in 20 properties being made brought back into use by the community organisations in the partnership.

In addition to properties being identified through the Council’s data, partners are pro-actively seeking out empty properties though estate agents, auction sites and through walk-arounds.

Area specific action

Due to the pre-agreed geographic preferences and continuous engagement there is no competition between partners for the same property meaning that grant funding is not spent unnecessarily on increased acquisition costs which enables the funding to go further.

A number of areas in the city exhibit severe housing market decline with high levels of vacancy; anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood nuisance; and poor quality housing stock. At the start of the programme the partnership agreed a coherent strategy to target these areas in order to achieve maximum impact and value from the funding available. As well as tackling empty properties, the Council is delivering frontage improvement schemes and external solid wall insulation schemes which further enhances the neighbourhoods and provides improved energy efficient housing stock. Photographs of completed improvements are available at Appendix 4.

At any one time there can be four partners working on one court terrace or one street simultaneously to tackle all of the empty properties at once. The Council also undertakes a range of complementary activities to address other neighbourhood issues. This includes enforcement action against private landlords who are not maintaining their properties adequately; taking action against anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping; organising bring out your rubbish days; and working with the Police and the Fire Service to tackle crime and implement fire prevention measures. Owner occupiers are also offered financial assistance to improve their homes.

Data sharing

The success of the Partnership has been achieved in part by the effective use of a data sharing protocol which enables the Council to share landlord information with partners securely online. Each partner has signed up to the protocol which is available at Appendix 5.

Continuous engagement

A further reason for success is the regular engagement between partners. Monthly meetings, hosted on a rotational basis, enable clear communications on progress with individual properties, identification of properties for enforcement, and sharing good practice between partners. This forum has also provided the opportunity for guest speakers and visits from the Hull Civic Society, the Probation Service and Jobcentre Plus.

Successful delivery

To date the partnership has brought more than 180 homes into use and work is underway at a further 90 properties. Not only has this created a new supply of affordable homes at a time of great demand, but it has also generated £1million in New Homes Bonus and almost £500,000 in Affordable Homes Bonus which will be reinvested in the city.

The partnership has also increased employment and training across the city, more than 30 apprenticeships and nearly 300 work experience opportunities have been created. Overall the net number of long term empty properties in the city has reduced by 406 from 2011 to 2014.

The partnership has attracted significant media attention both locally and nationally in recognition of the positive outcomes being achieved through its co-ordinated approach. A selection of articles is available at Appendix 6.

The Future of the partnership

Despite the current empty homes funding coming to an end in March 2015, the commitment, desire and optimism within the Hull Empty Homes Partnership continues and the partners, some of whom are now registering as Registered Providers, will strive to attract further funding to develop the programme and to tackle the remaining 2000 empty private sector properties in the city.

Below: David Clare (standing right) with the Hull Partnership representatives.

Groundwork (Rochdale) and Rochdale Borough Council


Groundwork helps people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, to build skills and job prospects, and to live and work in a greener way. We’re a registered charity with over 30 years of experience working with partners to deliver successful projects across the Bolton, Bury Oldham and Rochdale area. We know that the important issues are all connected – our work covers 'environmental issues’, 'regeneration', ‘youth and community work’, ‘business support’, 'employment' and ‘training’. Our joined up approach means we create projects and services that benefit people, the environment and wider society. The work we deliver around bringing long term empty properties back in to use is an important part of what we do as a vehicle to provide skills and jobs to local long term unemployed individuals.

Our Programme

Groundwork has been bringing empty homes back into the rental market since 2009. Under the empty homes funding it has enable Groundwork to develop a strategic and long term partnership with the Council’s Strategic Housing Team in helping to meet the Council’s Empty Homes Strategy by:

  • Under Rounds 1&2 funding – bringing 16 long term empties back into local use using the repair and lease model
  • Supporting 64 local long term unemployed people through a linked skills and employment programme which lies at the very heart of this programme
  • We help local unemployed people through a vocational training package and wrap around job search support to find jobs. A set of 4 learners are identified for every property to work on this programme. In that time they will get hands-on experience by working in the properties and they will also gain a recognised trade qualification called the Building Craft Occupancy qualification, a CSCS card and wrap around support from our dedicated Work Programme team in Rochdale with job search, CV support & interview techniques.
  • Through our relationship with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing and the Council most trainees will be guaranteed an interview with a local contractor when they have successfully completed our programme. Our track record shows that over 80% of learners we have worked with to date have either gained a job or gone into further training as a result of this programme.
  • Once renovated we rent the homes at affordable rents to benefit some of the most vulnerable people in Rochdale
  • Once renovated under a Housing Management Agreement we pay the local Housing Provider Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to manage the properties for us for up to 10 years

Our Partners

Rochdale Council

The programme would not be possible without the vision and support from Rochdale Council. They have supported us by:

  • Providing a senior key contact – Peter Maynard – who plays an active role in supporting Groundwork
  • Provide funding to the programme – without this we would not be able to deliver the programme
  • Discussing with us ideas in how the Council can support this work beyond the grant ending in 2015
  • Hold an annual empty homes event where landlord are invited to hear about what the scheme can offer them
  • Implement Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) in trying to bring properties forward for our programme
  • Individually write to landlords who own vacant properties inviting them in to meet with us
  • Help us publicise the scheme through press releases and member briefings
  • Provide technical support at the early stages in pulling the scheme of works together on the properties we take into the programme

Another important partner to us is Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, they:

  • Provide a senior contact to help unblock and manage any issues
  • Allow us to use their Stores for materials we need in the properties
  • Allow us to use their skilled staff (electricians, gas engineers) on the properties we renovate
  • Manage the properties on our behalf (at a small fee) as they see the wider picture in terms of programmes aim in supporting local people back into work
  • Supporting progression of learners into interviews with local contractors engaged on RBH contracts

Our Beneficiaries

“It has improved my confidence and knowledge of working with people in the building industry. It also improved my training in other trades I have never done before. The course was a confidence builder. It improves team work and improves hands on knowledge of the building trades.”

“The scheme was a fantastic experience”

“The Groundwork staff really helped me along the way, giving me good support and encouragement. It drives you forward to move to a better life and has widened my horizons.”

Below - Darryl Lawrence of Rochdale Housing Initiative (left) receiving the award from David Clare (Habitat for Humanity, right) on behalf of the Rochdale partnership.


The partnership between Emmaus Salford and Salford City Council, formed ten years ago, has been pivotal in the formation of an Emmaus community in Salford. The project has been supported by council officers and is chaired by Councillor Val Burgoyne. Emmaus communities support formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to get back on their feet again. Emmaus Salford will be the 25th community to open in the UK.

Salford has significantly higher rates of statutory homelessness in comparison with the average for England. Furthermore,  45% of those people who are homeless in Salford are not eligible for housing through the Council. Emmaus Salford will offer a positive alternative for single homeless people, who make up the majority of this group. Emmaus House is located in Langworthy, which is among the top 10 wards for multiple deprivation in the UK.

The city council encourages the use of previously developed land and buildings to support regeneration in the local area. This Emmaus project contributes to these objectives by returning the disused former nursing home, Emmaus House, into a community house and place of work for 26 homeless and vulnerable people. The city council had previously supported Emmaus Salford to open a very successful smaller shop premises, at a peppercorn rent.

Emmaus Salford will contribute to the Council’s Housing Strategy to reduce homelessness within the city through a partnership approach with other agencies. Emmaus Salford is also well placed to contribute to the Council’s objective to tackle the causes of homelessness, as it takes a holistic approach to working with residents.

After the successful submission for funding to the Empty Property Community Grants Programme, refurbishment commenced in December 2013 on the accommodation phases with practical completion being achieved in April 2014.

During the refurbishment phase consultancy work was awarded to Urban Vision, a joint venture between Salford City Council, Capita Symonds and Morrison Highways Maintenance. Urban Vision has since provided the multi-disciplinary design and management support to deliver this project. Additional funding was secured for a retail shop on the site and the work was tendered to contractors on the city council’s approved list of contractors. The shop opened on the 5th April 2014 and will help to ensure Emmaus Salford meets one of Emmaus’s strategic objectives to become financially and organisationally secure.

All the redecoration will be carried out by Emmaus companions (residents) and volunteers along with organisations and partners such as CRASH, Network Rail, Salix Homes and Urban Vision

Many Emmaus residents have experienced a combination of negative events in their lives, including relationship breakdown, bereavement or job loss. Many will have institutional experience and three quarters will have slept rough at some point in their lives. The majority struggle with alcohol and drug dependencies.

Like other Emmaus communities, Emmaus Salford will provide a stable home, meaningful work and the individual support and training opportunities that residents need to a make lasting change in their lives. All residents will have a personal support plan, which provides them with the holistic support they need to regain control of their lives. This may include counselling, debt advice, medical or dental care and support to overcome addictions. Residents will also have access to education and training to prepare them for employment and independent living.

Emmaus Salford will provide a range of benefits for the local community. Like other Emmaus projects, Emmaus Salford will work closely with referral agencies, day shelters and hostels to provide an effective and sustainable solution for homeless people in the local area. The most significant beneficiaries will be residents of the community, who are vulnerable adults with experience of homelessness. The project will also create a number of permanent jobs and a range of volunteering opportunities for local people. This will help to meet Emmaus’ strategic aims to ensure the project becomes financially robust.

Salford will benefit from the project as the 2012 Social Return on Investment study demonstrated that Emmaus communities generate £11 in social, economic and environmental benefits for every £1 invested. The most significant benefits relate to improvements in residents’ mental and physical health; reductions in offending; reductions in substance misuse and improvements in skills and employability.

There will also be a long term benefit to the local community who will be able to access a source of good quality, affordable second-hand furniture and household goods. An Emmaus community saves around 250 tonnes per year from landfill through reuse and recycling. Communities, through solidarity, offer support to other Emmaus communities and all also give items for free or at very low cost to local people who are in need.

Unfortunately nobody was available to receive the award in person on behalf of either of partners.

Contact details for Award Winners and Sponsors

Deadline for voting on BGM minutes - Thursday 18th September

18 Sep 2014 23:59
Event Description: 

The deadline for voting to approve the BGM minutes is 11.59 pm, Thursday 18th September.

Contact details: 

Minister praises EPOs, but no to programme extension

In a letter to the Empty Homes Network, Stephen Williams, the Minister for Empty Homes has turned down our plea for an extension of the current Empty Homes Programme beyond 31st March 2015 (reported here), whilst acknowledging the contribution of local authority empty homes officers in bringing down the total number of empties.

The letter to us reads as follows:

Thank you for your letters of 28 July to Brandon Lewis MP and I about the empty homes programme.

The Government has placed a high commitment to bring back empty homes into use and empty homes in England are now at their lowest level at just over 635,000 which is down by around a fifth since 2009 and their lowest level since 2004. There has also been a dramatic drop in the numbers of long-term vacant properties, which fell by around a third over the past 4 years, from 316,251 in 2009 to 216,050 in 2013. This is partly due to the hard work carried out by local authority empty homes officers in identifying and persuading owners to bring properties back into use.

I can confirm that the Empty Homes Programmes will close on 31 March 2015 and registered providers and community groups are required to complete delivery by that date to claim funding. There are no plans to extend the delivery deadline which was clearly set out in the bidding guidance and funding agreements with providers.

However, bids for empty homes schemes are eligible to apply for 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme funding. In a change from the previous programme, all the funding has not been allocated at the outset and the remainder will be available for future bids in due course. You mention the 75% starts on site grant payments for affordable housing. I would like to clarify this only applies to early starts on site between 1 July 2014 and 31 March 2015.

As regards the last point, about bidding for funding for the new programme, we are aware of one successful bid so far (Rossendale's bid for revolving loan funding which we believe is cross-authority); but we are also aware of another bid which was directly modelled on successful delivery under the current programme which failed.  This suggests that the value-for-money criteria will be tightly applied.


Report-an-Empty website goes off line

The Report an Empty website has been taken off-line, with indications that the relevant contracts are under review.  The website allowed members of the public to report empty homes and the information supplied was then forwarded to local authorities. Local authorities were encouraged to report back with any progress or actions being undertaken.


The website was launched in 2009 and was the brainchild of Empty Homes Agency Ltd.. The charity still owns the domain name and as far as we know the site is still the property of the charity although funding is thought to be mainly if not entirely from other sources such as Shelter (see below).

Subsequently, the website received further impetus as a result of George Clarke's Great British Property Scandal programmes on empty homes in 2011 and local authorities received a flurry of reports generated by the site.  We believe that Channel 4 had an involvement in improvements to the site before control was returned to EHA Ltd..

In addition Shelter Cymru sought to promote the site as part of its empty homes initiative in Wales; and further support was provided by Shelter Scotland as it developed its Scottish-government-supported Scottish Empty Homes Partnership.

The site found a home as part of the mysociety.com portfolio of online resources, which includes WhatDoTheyKnow and TheyWorkForYou, and more specifically as part of FixMyStreet which seems to have its own development team.

The Empty Homes Network website has included a link to reportemptyhomes.com from our front page since 2011. The link has now been removed until such time as the site is live again.


In England, many local authorities have their own web-form to report empty homes; and conversely, few, possibly none, point members of the public towards the reportemptyhomes.com website.

In Wales and Scotland, however, the website seems to have been adopted as the "official" route to reporting empty homes, with many local authorities offering direct links to reportemptyhomes.com rather than providing their own web-forms.  These reporting mechanisms are currently off-line.

What next?

Early indications are that the website has not been taken down for "strategic" or financial reasons but because it was not fulfilling its role properly owing to some technical issues that are being laid at the door of the development/support team. 

Nevertheless, Kristen Hubert of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has suggested that this is an opportunity to review how the site is used and how its full potential can be realised: so there is likely to be a strategic review of it.  No doubt the issue of Scottish independence may have some influence on the direction taken.

Kristen has said she would welcome feedback from EHN members about their experience of the reportanempty tool: so if you are able to supply any you are strongly encouraged to log in and post a comment to this story.

Welcome to incoming Executive

Matt Smith (left) and Nick Pritchard-Gordon (right)

With no contention for Executive places, those people nominated were returned unopposed and without the need for an election (phew!).

At its last meeting in July, the Executive voted a huge thank you  to Matt Smith of Birmingham City Council (pictured left) for his two-year stint as Chair, a period that included continuing growth for the Empty Homes Network despite the cuts and was also brightened by probably the two best national Conferences that EHN has ever run. Matt's steadying influence has been invaluable during a challenging time.

Matt will continue to serve on the Executive and on the Governance Sub-Committee as Past Chair.

Welcome, then, to incoming Chair, Nick Pritchard-Gordon (Reading Borough Council) (pictured right). He is well-known to many for his insightful, amusing and humane presentations on empty homes issues and has also been a highly dynamic and engaged member of the Executive since joining it and particularly as Vice-Chair over the last two years. His elevation to the Chair is well-deserved.

Sue Li, Amber Valley Borough Council (pictured below), has taken over the Vice-Chair role. One of the most experienced practitioners in the country, Sue is a long-term stalwart of the East Midlands Empty Homes Forum and the EHN Executive. As the inspiration behind an award-winning empty homes initiative she has featured at more than one of our Conferernces.

Darryl Lawrence relinquishes his role of Past Chair to make way for Matt Smith. Darryl has made a huge contribution to the Network over the four years he has served as Chair and Past Chair and we are fortunate that he has been elected as an Ordinary Member of the Executive

Mark Fisher (Basingstoke and Deane) has also been returned as an Ordinary Member of the Executive. 

Both Mark and Darryl have been key players in the largely successful effort to get lenders to be more accommodating to leasing proposals.

The full Executive membership details can be found here.

Deadline for comments on the Minutes of the BGM 2012 - 5th September

5 Sep 2014 23:59
Event Description: 

Deadline for suggesting amendments to the Minutes of the last (2012) Biennial General Meeting.

Contact details: 

Deadline for nominations to the Executive - 5th September

5 Sep 2014 23:59
Event Description: 

Deadline for nominations to the Executive. See the forum post for full details.

Contact details: 

New tool improves access to register of government land

The Cabinet Office has announced its Government Property Finder to help people find out about the government's property portfolio, including both surplus land and buildings that could be converted to homes.

The announcement is tied in with a plug for the government's "Right to Contest" which allows members of the public to challenge the current use of buildings or land if they think that it is being used ineffciently or inappropriately.

The government news story says the new tool "maps" government property and says you can "see locations of public property" - but this seems to be misleading as there was no map feature available when EHN tested out the facility.  The information too is not self-explanatory.

The dataset being interrogated by the tool is presumably e-PIMS, the government's Electronic Property Information Mapping Service.  This seems to include most but not all goverment property assets: for example the User Guide [2MB .pdf file] for the Register of Surplus Public Land indicates that not all MOD land is in the register.