England’s empty homes: a £212 billion waste of space

England’s empty homes: a £212 billion waste of space

0:02 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago 10

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As many people face difficulties in finding affordable housing, a new study reveals that England has 676,000 empty homes worth £212 billion.

These properties account for 2.7% of the nation’s housing stock, which is already in short supply.

The study was conducted by House Buyer Bureau, which found that the North East has the highest percentage of empty homes, with 3.3%, followed by the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, both with 3.0%.

Liverpool tops the list of cities with the most vacant rental properties, with 4.7% of its stock lying unused – that means 10,769 homes out of 229,863 are unoccupied.

Burnley and Blackpool, also in the North East, have the same percentage of empty homes, with 4.4%.

‘Struggled to supply enough properties for renters’

Chris Hodgkinson, the managing director of House Buyer Bureau, said: “The UK has long struggled to supply enough properties for renters and aspiring buyers, and one factor that doesn’t help is that hundreds of thousands of homes are left picking up dust.

“The problem seems to be especially bad in the North, with Liverpool being one of the worst offenders, while some valuable areas of London are also not being properly utilised.”

He added: “To improve the issue of vacant properties, the government could sink money into another empty homes scheme or do more to tax those owners who fail to rent out or use their homes.

“It’s also fair to assume that with the continued high cost of living and borrowing, coupled with a cooling property market where prices are concerned, we could well see more properties become vacant as the nation’s landlords continue to exit the sector in order to balance their books.”

Empty Homes Programme to tackle the issue

England used to have the Empty Homes Programme to tackle the issue and bring empty homes back into use, but this was scrapped in 2015.

Some councils have taken their own measures to penalise owners who leave their properties empty for too long.

For example, the City of London charges higher council tax rates for homes that are vacant for more than two years.

Greater London has the lowest percentage of empty homes in England, with just 2.4% – but this does not apply to all areas in the capital.

The City of London district has 4.5% of its homes empty, despite the council’s efforts. This means 351 out of 7,775 homes are unused.

The most expensive empty homes are located in Kensington and Chelsea, where 3,196 properties are worth £4.3 billion.

Outside London, Birmingham and Leeds have the highest value of empty homes, with £3.04 billion and £2.85 billion respectively.


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Comments

Reluctant Landlord

8:44 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Jeeezzz. If you buy a private property its yours to do what you like with. Leave empty or not, use when you like etc.

Empty does not automatically mean unused or unintended for future use (planning issues) and anyway the owner decides what they want to do. Private property! If they choose to leave empty, visit occasionally and still pay council tax for the privilege so what?

The politics of envy at play here.

Blodwyn

10:41 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

I understand the point made by Reluctant Landlord but there is a pressing need for housing, especially for those who simply cannot afford to get past the inflationary spiral. The phrase 'Use it or Lose it' springs to mind. So does compulsory purchase by LAs for use as, wait for it, council houses!!!
Could that be social responsibility rather than politics of envy? Apart from that, empty and boarded up properties are a visual blight.

john thompson

10:49 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

So basicly they just want a law passed to take awy peoples property after they already sting you for councuil tax that is supossed to be for council services when an empty home needs no council services.
Alll without taking in to concderation the owners position, mabey they dont yet have the time or money to renovate, are ill, family going through ligal issues etc,etc!.
At ther end of the day the most of the time the owner bought the property paid huge tax, is paying unfair council tax, and is entiteld to do what the hell they want with it, empty ort not!
We are living in a creeping dictatorship.

Blodwyn

10:57 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by john thompson at 05/10/2023 - 10:49
I'm not sure any 'new' law is required? BTW there are far too many laws that could be disposed of being passed to assuage the yapping mob. Making 'upskirting' a discrete offence for example, why not use loitering with intent to be a public nuiscance? Use compulsory purchase if no response to proper enquiry as to what a property is left to wrack and ruin when it could be made use of?

Lynda Smith

13:01 PM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Why does every solution suggested seem to be that charging/taxing landlords more will help to find a solution. Much of the problems faced now are because private landlords have no longer any incentive to rent out their properties so surely taxing less or finding incentives for them to do so would help?

Teessider

21:55 PM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Empty homes are often a blight on neighbourhoods.

Some are empty for decades and this really should be addressed. Perhaps council tax multiples by years empty would encourage homes to be used as intended.

JB

6:30 AM, 6th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Katey Major at 06/10/2023 - 01:41
'Needs should never be used for profits.'
I need to eat. Does that mean farmers and supermarkets shouldn't make a profit?
That would cause starvation for millions

Blodwyn

10:10 AM, 6th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Teessider at 05/10/2023 - 21:55
LA do Land Register search, find owner? Look for a law if it exists (or ask Parliament to make one) to give them power to issue warnings to owner if found. Publish in press.
The aim is to exercise compulsory purchase powers to put property to good use, such as council house. All very well to say we as property owners can 'do what the hell we like' but we can't. In a civilised society there is such a strange thing as social responsibility, although the conduct of too many LAs makes you wonder?
Would this go at least part way to Teesider's question?

Blodwyn

10:10 AM, 6th October 2023, About 9 months ago

LA do Land Register search, find owner? Look for a law if it exists (or ask Parliament to make one) to give them power to issue warnings to owner if found. Publish in press.
The aim is to exercise compulsory purchase powers to put property to good use, such as council house. All very well to say we as property owners can 'do what the hell we like' but we can't. In a civilised society there is such a strange thing as social responsibility, although the conduct of too many LAs makes you wonder?
Would this go at least part way to Teesider's question?

Lisa008

9:26 AM, 7th October 2023, About 8 months ago

Properties are left empty for a number of reasons. I don't think anyone should be 'forced' to sell i.e. compulsory purchase order, but rather "encouraged" to sell up if they don't use it and it's going derelict. The doubling of council tax helps to push some owners into selling.

Some people have houses that have fallen into a state of disrepair, they don't have the funds to do it up, and yet they only want to sell it for top whack! Those are the people who need to just let go, and let someone else bring the place back into use.

I've come across this scenario a few times and can't help but feel that it's greed that's making them hang onto something that they can't do anything with. Maybe they've let a place out for years, collected the rent, spent it on themselves, and let the place get run down. The tenant has left, and now they're too broke to get it back up to scratch? Even if the councils took on the cost of doing the job, but in return held it for '20 years' to get their money back, I'm sure something could be worked out. The owner gets to keep their property (if thats what they want). No council tax bill for years, no problems, but a housing organisation or someone is repairing and managing the place. Creative solutions are needed to solve this housing crisis.

Note - if Liverpool has a large number of unlet places, then surely (see previous article) - giving landlords incentives to take on 'Ukranian guests' would make more sense in those areas? In fact, they wouldn't need incentives if there are a lot of empty units, and the cash would be better spent on local infrastructure projects and making it a place more people want to be? Or is this too simplistic? Am I missing something?

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