Enforced sale feedback

Hi All

So far when dealing with empty homes we as a Council have only carried out Voluntary Acquisitions and Compulsory Purchases.  I am however wanting to explore the idea of Enforced Sales, as quite a few of our properties have outstanding debts to the Council, both for non-payments of Council Tax and works in default. 

Prior to any decisions being made and in order for me to build a case to put to my seniors, I would be very grateful to hear of how other Councils have found the Enforced Sales process including, average time to complete, how many you have successfully completed and the financial benefits.  

Any information to assist me would be appreciate.

Many thanks


Enforced Sale

Hi Sadie,

In Barnsley we have completed 6 enforced sales since September 2018 with 1 currently SSTC and several in the pipeline. The process is quite consuming building your case and ensuring the initial notices, invoices and legal notices have been served correctly on the property & owner.

As the debts are already in place that is a good start and should speed the process up. You will need to check the debts are registered against the property at land registry then be able to serve a final legal notice then you are ready to sell the property.

We sell our properties through a procured estate agent, advertising the property for 2 full weeks giving potential bidders the opportunity to assess the property externally only and make their best & final bid by the deadline.

Once the sale completes depending on the inital notice, we clear the registered debts to the council, costs incurred (agent fees, council fees, etc.) prior to paying off any outstanding mortgages. If any money is remaining, we then write to the owner every 3 months for the 1st year then on an annual basis for 12 years.

I have only given a quick overview above but I am more than happy to speak either over the telephone or email.

01226 774047 / amyforster@barnsley.gov.uk

Hi Sadie

In Rochdale we have been using the Enforced Sale process for a long time, as Amy has already said it is time consuming and you have to ensure all the notices have been served correctly but it is a very effective tool for not only recovering debts owed to the Council but we've found that a change in ownership generally means the property is brought back into use. 

I would definitly say go for it, the worst case scenario is the owners repay the debt and still refuse to bring the property back into use.



Empty Property Team Leader

Rochdale Borough Council


We have a bit of a conveyor belt of properties continuously fed into our enforced sales system.  We refer them to our legal services team who carry out most of the work involved i.e.: serving the relvant notices, registering the charge on the title with land registry, and drafting the notice of possession.  Once these stages are completed it is finally passed to our Property Asset Management Team who serve notice of possession and arrange the marketing of the property with local property auctioneers.

One thing I would strongly suggest, if you are going to sell properties by enforced sale, you do so through a property auction.  You need to show that you have achieved best price for the property and it is accepted that sale by auction achieves the best price on the day.

I can't give you a firm timescale because our legal services carry out this work along with their other roles and unfortunately this is not their priority.  Depending upon their availability the time scales appear to be in the region of 6 to 12 months.  We find enforced sale a very useful tool for recovering costs incurred for work carried out in default.  In addition, other council land charges are also receovered along with oustanding council tax.  With money being tight for local authorities these days, enforced sale is not a luxury, it is a must.

While the whole process is designed to recover costs incurred by the council, it can also have a secondary advantage in that properties sold at auction are more likely to be refurbished and brought back into use.  One less empty property and regular council tax from it.

Feel free to contact me to discuss if you wish


Terry Curnow I Principal Officer
Vacant Property Team I Housing & Development I

Liverpool City Council I 4th Floor I Cunard Building I Water Street I Liverpool I L3 1AH
T: 0151 233 5208 I E: terry.curnow@liverpool.gov.uk


Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council