Number of empty homes on the decline

More than 200,000 homes worth over £43bn were lying empty in England last year with Kensington and Chelsea in London having the highest number, new research shows.

In London alone, there were 19,845 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016, some £9.4 billion worth of property and Birmingham had the highest number outside of the capital with 4,397 properties sitting empty with an estimated value of £956m.

Bradford had the next highest with 3,944, down 5% valued at £858m, followed by Liverpool on 3,449, up 5% and valued at £750m while Manchester has seen the greatest fall over a decade, dropping 88% to 1,365.

The research from real estate investment firm Property Partner using figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also shows that the number of empty properties in Kensington and Chelsea increased by 8.5% year on year and up 22.7% in the last decade.

Across England the number has barely changed year on year although compared to 2006 the number is down by 36.4% from 314,719. But some parts of London have seen the number of empty homes fall. In Newham, for example, the number has fallen by 55% to 593 from 1,318 in 2015.

Hammersmith and Fulham had the second highest total number of empty homes up 42.7% to 381 in 12 months and over a decade Harrow not only saw the biggest rise in one year but the largest London rise in 10 years, up 76%.

The borough of Croydon had the second highest number of vacant homes at 1,216, up 19% in a year, followed by Camden with 1,114, down 2%. Overall in London 19 boroughs saw falls while 14 saw rises on the previous year.

Dan Gandesha, chief executive officer of Property Partner, said: “Councils have had the power to apply to seize empty homes since 2006 and huge advances have been made over the last 10 years.

“Dealing with this issue represents an 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. Tackling empty homes is one of the ways Britain can fix its broken housing market.”

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