Number of empty homes in England has increased substantially, official figures show

The number of homes left empty in England for at least six months increased by 5.3% in the 12 months to October 2018, the highest level since 2012, official figures show.

It is the second year in a row that long term empty home numbers have risen. In the 12 month period they reached 216,186 and a steeper rise than the 2.6% recorded in the previous year, the data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirms.

Before two years ago the number of empty homes had fallen every year since 2008 and a new analysis from modular home builder Project Etopia suggests that long term vacant homes now account for £53.6 billion worth of property.

Of all towns and cities in England, Portsmouth saw the biggest percentage rise in long term empty homes last year, with a total of 939, a rise of 101.5%, followed by Hartlepool with a rise of 53.8% to 726, and Eastbourne up 48.4% to 518.

The data also shows that Woking saw a 47.2% rise in empty homes, York a rise of 46.8%, Harlow up 43.1%, Bedford up 42.2%, Maidstone up 41.8%, St Albans up 40.6%, and Norwich up 37.9%.

Birmingham had the highest overall number in the country with 4,283 long term vacant homes, more or less unchanged on the previous year with a rise of 0.07%, followed by Durham with 4,130 was down by 9% and Bradford with 4,090 recorded a rise of 4%.

Liverpool had 3,703, a fall of 4,8%, Leeds some 2,788, a rise of 2.9%, Sheffield a rise of 10.4% to 2,344, Sunderland up 6.4% to 1,893, Stoke on Trent up 22.9% to 1,865, Newcastle up 12.4% to 1,792 and Doncaster up 3.4% to 1,683.

The analysis also shows that London has also seen another rise in the number of long term empty homes, its second increase since 2009, up 11.1% to 22,481 in 2018, representing £10.7 billion worth of property.

The largest number of empty property in London can be found in Southwark with a rise of 56.6% to 1,766, followed by the City of London, up 54.4% to 244, Sutton up 46% to 686, Richmond up 41.9% to 488 and Greenwich up 38.3% to 830.

‘This remains a national scandal that isn’t going away, pointing to a collective failure to really get to grips with this problem,’ said Joseph Daniels, chief executive officer of Project Etopia.

‘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,’ he explained.

‘New homes are not being built fast enough and the constant spectre of abandoned properties aggravates an already tough market, particularly for first time buyers who desperately want to claim the keys to their first property,’ he added.

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