Research reveals huge rise in number of empty homes in England

The number of empty homes in England has increased for the first time in a decade with the city of York recording the biggest rise as the number of long term vacant properties rose 322% in a year.

Overall one in 10 vacant properties are in London where there is some £9.6 billion of long term empty housing stock, according to a new analysis from online estate agents HouseSimple.

The figures are published at a time when there are concerns about the number of homes lying empty when the country is facing a housing shortage in both the sales and the lettings markets.

Overall homes lying empty for at least six months are estimated to be worth £50 billion and the City of London recorded the second biggest rise at 229%, followed by Cambridge with a rise of 156%.

There had been a gradual decline in the number of long term vacant homes since 2008 when the figure stood at 326,954 as the financial crisis began to unfold. But last year the numbers swelled again by 5,148 to reach 205,293, a rise of 2.6%, according to Government figures.

The location with the biggest number of empty homes is Birmingham with 4,280, although this is 2.7% lower than in 2016, followed by Bradford at 3,931, down 0.3% from the previous year and then Liverpool at 3,889, a rise of 12.8%.

Leeds has 2,709 empty homes, up 5.2%, while Sheffield has 2,204, up 10.5%, then Sefton with 1,856,up 13.2%, Sunderland with 1,779, up 1.2%, Doncaster 1,628, up 0.9%, Newcastle 1,595, up 24.4% and Wakefield 1,526, down 8.4%.

In London the borough with the biggest number of empty homes is Croydon with 1,264, a rise of 3.9% compared with 2016, followed by Kensington and Chelsea with 1,230, a fall of 12.1%, then Camden with 1,142, a rise of 2.5%, Southwark with 1,128, up 21.8% and Barnet at 1,048, a fall of 4.7%.

Sam Mitchell, House Simple’s chief executive officer, said:

‘Having empty housing stock on this scale, in a country suffering a supply crisis with plenty of legal options open to councils, is a situation that needs to be addressed urgently.

‘There are only so many times you can hear the latest housing minister declare we have a broken housing market and keep faith that they understand the scale of the problem. It would be good to see the Government actually do something about all these empty homes for a change.

‘The situation has worsened, not just in London but across the country. Surely it is time to think of some innovative solutions such as temporary capital gains tax relief for sales of empty, second or investment properties to help deal with this issue in the short term.’


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