The number of empty homes across England has risen for the second consecutive year to 216,000, the highest level since 2012, according to official figures.
The number of long-term vacant properties – empty for at least six months – rose by 5.3% to 216,186 in the 12 months to October, according to the MHCLG. It is the highest level since 2012, when 254,059 properties were unoccupied.
Analysis by modular home builder Project Etopia shows that 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: more than doubling to 939 in the year to October.
Local councils have a range of powers to tackle long-term empty homes. I expect them to make full use of them.
Hartlepool had the second-largest rise, up 53.8% to 726, while Eastbourne posted the third largest increase, rising 48.4% to 518. The number in London has also gone up, by 11% to 22,481 – representing £10.7bn worth of property.
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.”
Kit Malthouse, 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%.”