The number of empty homes (vacant more than 6 months) has risen for the first time in 10 years to more than 205,000 with an estimated value of £50bn, according to government data.
At the height of the financial crisis long term vacant homes in the UK were in the region of 327,000.
There are some areas that have a notable rise in empty homes, York recorded the biggest rise last year, up by more than 320%. The City of London saw the second biggest rise of 230%, while Cambridge posted the third largest increase of 150%.
Unsurprisingly, London has the highest number, with more than 20,000 long-term vacant properties in 2017. Birmingham ranks second with nearly 4,300, while Bradford, with nearly 4,000 empty homes, comes third.
Corby had the fewest empty properties with just nine long-term vacant homes last year.
While councils had made inroads into the number of empty properties over the last decade, they still need resources to bring more empty homes back into use. Many of these properties are in a poor state of repair, due to lack of maintenance and vandalism.
The disadvantages and problems associated with long term empty dwellings:
- Are generally eyesores, the gardens become overgrown and they trap litter.
- Neglect can allow rats and mice to multiply.
- They can attract anti-social behaviour or even squatters.
- It takes up time and money if the council, Police, and Fire and Rescue Service have to keep responding to complaints.
- They bring the neighbourhood down and can reduce house prices in the area.
- The owner earns nothing from the property and it becomes a liability.
Private properties end up uninhabited for several reasons. An elderly homeowner may move into care without selling his or her property, or a home may be passed to relatives of the deceased homeowner but a family dispute means it lies empty.
In more central locations, particularly London, some properties are bought by wealthy buyers who pick up homes as investments and leave them empty while waiting for the value to increase before selling them on.
Since April 2013, local authorities have been able to charge 50% extra in council tax for home owners of second properties who leave them unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more.
If you have an empty property or know of any Contact Us, we may be able to help.