Number of empty homes in England rises to more than 216,000

Long-term vacant homes now account for £53.6bn of property, analysis finds

The number of empty homes across England has risen for the second consecutive year to more than 216,000, the highest level since 2012, according to official figures.

The number of long-term vacant properties – those empty for at least six months – rose by 5.3% to 216,186 in the 12 months to October, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It is the highest level since 2012, when 254,059 properties were unoccupied.

The rise compares with a 2.6% increase the previous year – before that, the number of empty homes had fallen every year since 2008.

Analysis by modular home and school builder Project Etopia shows long-term vacant homes now account for £53.6bn of property in England.

Coastal towns and cities, led by Portsmouth, posted the biggest percentage rise in long-term empty homes: the number more than doubled to 939 in the year to October.

Hartlepool, in northern England, had the second-biggest rise, up 53.8% to 726, while Eastbourne, on the south coast, posted the third-largest increase, rising 48.4% to 518.

The number of long-term empty homes in London has also gone up, by 11% to 22,481 – representing £10.7bn worth of property.

Outside the capital, Birmingham had the highest overall number in England, with 4,283 long-term vacant homes, up slightly from 4,280; followed by Durham with 4,130, Bradford with 4,090 and Liverpool with 3,889. However, in Durham and Liverpool the number of empty homes fell by 9% and 4.8% respectively.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

The Project Etopia chief executive, Joseph Daniels, 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.”

In London, Southwark, with 1,766 vacant properties, had the biggest number of empty homes. Croydon, to the south of the capital, had the second-highest number of long-term empty homes with 1,521, followed by Camden in the north, with 1,210.

Kit Malthouse, the 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%.”


Julia Kollewe

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘We owe our landlord £1m in rent – but they’ve left us with substandard homes’
Homeless charity’s fight over rent arrears adds to property funds’ woes, including rising interest rates and sceptical investors

Julia Kollewe

07, Feb, 2023 @6:00 AM

Article image
Overcrowding in social housing in England soars to 24-year high
More than 300,000 households squeezed into too few rooms, official figures show

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

31, Jan, 2019 @11:50 AM

Article image
Construction of homes for social rent drops 80% in a decade
Figures for England show 6,463 homes built in 2017-18 despite 1.25 million families on waiting lists

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

22, Nov, 2018 @4:32 PM

Article image
Fill empty properties before building more homes
Letters: The proposals in the housing and planning bill will do little or nothing to alleviate the housing crisis


25, Feb, 2016 @8:03 PM

Article image
Rootless and ruled by the landlord class – the future for young adults
The disappearance of home ownership and secure employment will have a profound effect on UK cities

Dan Hancox

12, Feb, 2016 @4:28 PM

Article image
A fraction of Persimmon boss’s £110m bonus could house all homeless of York
Top executives of property developer that benefited from help-to-buy scheme face calls to donate part of their ‘obscene’ bonuses to charities

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

30, Dec, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Chinese firm to build Europe's tallest residential tower in London
Plans for £800m Spire London include controversial ‘poor doors’ for social tenants and private lifts for penthouses

Patrick Collinson

05, Sep, 2016 @10:23 AM

Article image
Housing crisis: more than 200,000 homes in England lie empty
Birmingham is the city outside London with the most unused properties, followed by Bradford and Liverpool, new figures show

Phillip Inman

20, Apr, 2017 @6:15 PM

Article image
Birmingham area named poorest in UK has fastest house price rises
Prices in Ladywood are up 17% in a year, with local estate agents pointing to influx of young professionals and investors

Patrick Collinson

28, Nov, 2017 @12:01 AM

Article image
Housing crisis: minister announces plan to refurbish empty homes

Some 5,000 empty homes could be brought back into use as government battles to end housing shortage

Juliette Jowit, political correspondent

26, Nov, 2012 @12:00 AM