Unused Homes Increase In England For Second Consecutive Year

The housing crisis appears to be deepening after it was revealed that the number of vacant and empty homes in England increased for the second year in a row.

In total, more than £53 billion worth of property has been empty and unused for more than six months in England alone.

According to data obtained by home builders Project Etopia, in the 12 months to October 2018, 216,186 properties in England had been empty for over six months. This represents a 5.3% increase of empty, unused properties that continue to mock the housing market in desperate need of additional stock.

The last time the housing market had more empty properties was in 2012 when over 250,000 lay unused and useless to the property market.

In London alone, the 22,481 unused properties equate to £10.7 billion worth of property slowly rotting, an 11% on the figures from a year earlier. The area around Hartlepool has suffered last year with the 726 empty homes representing 53.8% more properties vacant compared with 2017.

A recent survey has also found that 47% of over 55s feel as though they would like to move but a lack of appropriate housing stock and choice prevents them from freeing up a huge array of family homes they currently reside in. Whilst such a large number of built properties remain vacant, it is difficult to see how the growing crisis can be easily resolved.

Joseph Daniels, Project Etopia Chief Executive, said:

“The stubbornly high number of empty homes is compounding the housing market’s deeply entrenched problems with lack of supply remaining a key driver of high prices and low affordability. New homes are not being built fast enough and the constant spectre of abandoned properties aggravates an already tough market.”

Kit Malthouse, Housing Minister, said:

“Local authorities have a range of powers at their disposal to tackle long-term empty homes, and I expect them to make full use of these so everyone has a roof over their head. All local authorities in England have the power to charge homes that have been empty for at least two years an extra 50% on their council tax bill, and now from April, they can increase this to 100%.”

Does more need to be done to ensure that appropriate vacant houses are made available and restored? What needs to be done to avoid this gap widening in the future?

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