£38 billion worth of empty property in England – over 200,000 homes are unoccupied

England has more than 203,000 long-term empty homes which, according to research by the property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, have an estimated value of over £38 billion.

In London alone, there were 20,915 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2015 – that is almost £12.4 billion worth of empty property, in a city facing an extreme housing shortage.

Property Partner analysed the latest data from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), looking at long-term vacant dwellings in England between 2005 and 2015, and then estimated the total value of this vacant real estate for towns and cities including the capital.

Dan Gandesha, CEO of property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, comments:

“These figures reveal a shocking waste of opportunity. Over a decade ago, the law changed giving councils the power to seize empty homes through Compulsory Purchase Orders and rent them back out to tenants, if they lay vacant for more than two years.

“But we still find not enough being done in many parts of the country. This is nothing short of a scandal.”

In the past decade, the number of long-term vacant dwellings in England has been reducing. In 2005, there were 313,616 – by 2015 that had dropped by around a third to 203,596.

Impressively, Manchester has seen the number of empty homes plummet by more than 84%, from 10,059 long-term vacant dwellings in 2005 to 1,599 ten years later.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bradford, which has the worst problem outside London, has seen a rise of 7% in the past decade (total of 4,154 empty homes) with an estimated value of more than £400 million worth of property sitting empty.

The following table shows long-term vacant properties for the worst-affected 20 towns and cities in England (excluding London) from 2005-2015, and the total estimated value, calculated from average house prices in each area.

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West Yorkshire, which includes Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, has the highest number (12,292) of long-term empty properties of all the English metropolitan districts – an estimated £1.4 billion worth of potential homes that could be occupied.

Newham in London has the most empty properties (1,318) of all 33 boroughs in the capital with the total value standing at almost £470 million. Meanwhile, Kensington and Chelsea’s long term vacant housing stock is valued at a whopping £1.7 billion. By contrast, Harrow in the north west of London has just 97 dwellings which have been unoccupied for over six months and unsurprisingly, the smallest borough the City of London has just 44.

Only three boroughs have seen increases in the number of vacant dwellings over the decade (Kensington and Chelsea, Haringey and Lewisham) while Wandsworth can feel proud. In 2005, there were 3,044 long-term empty properties there but by 2015, that had dropped dramatically to 263 – a fall of more than 90%.

The following table shows long-term vacant properties for all 33 London boroughs from 2005-2015, and the total estimated value, calculated from average property prices in each borough.

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Dan Gandesha added:

“To be fair, some towns and cities are getting to grips with the problem of long-term vacant properties.

“Yet if just half of the current empty homes could be brought to market, it would go a long way towards resolving the housing crisis, particularly in London.

“Despite the mountain of advice that the new London Mayor has already received, I hope this is a priority for Sadiq Khan’s in-tray in City Hall.”