Empty homes reach new heights in England

Research released by the Department of Communities & Local Government this week (24th April) suggest England has 200,145 long-term empty homes which, according to research by property investment marketplace Property Partner, are worth more than £43billion.

In London alone, there were 19,845 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016 – that is £9.4billion worth of property, taking into account the average price in London of £474,704.

Birmingham was the worst performer outside London with 4,397 properties sitting empty – up 13% in a year – with an estimated value of £956m. Bradford had the second highest figure at 3,944 (down 5% valued at £858m) followed by Liverpool on 3,449 (up 5% valued at £750m).

Manchester has seen the greatest fall over a decade, dropping 88% to 1,365.

It is a change in fortunes in London where one of the most deprived areas has swapped places with one of the wealthiest as the capital’s worst performer.

Prime property hotspot Kensington & Chelsea has London’s highest number of long-term vacant homes with 1,399 empty, up 8.5% on last year and a rise of 22.7% in a decade. Taking into account the Royal Borough’s unusually high average property prices, this would give the homes an estimated value of £2billion.

Previously, last place in the capital had gone to Newham, which has staged a remarkable turnaround in 12 months, slashing the number of empty homes by 55% to 593 from 1,318 in 2015.

Dan Gandesha, CEO of Property Partner, comments: “These figures lay bare the huge amount of housing stock lying empty across the country.

“Dealing with this issue represents a fantastic opportunity to free up supply and help alleviate the scarcity of affordable housing nationally.

“We’d like to see the trend of the last decade continue, particularly where prices and demand are highest. That’s why it is a concern that in London 14 of 33 boroughs saw an increase in empty homes compared with the previous year.

“It would be encouraging to see that number reduce over the course of 2017, particularly when you consider that in and around London, some of the poorest workers are being pushed towards spending more than 40% of their income on rent.

“Tackling empty homes is one of the ways Britain can fix its broken housing market.”