Could 200,145 empty homes help fix the housing market?

The housing market is under strain – everyone is aware of the increasing pressure being faced by private landlords, councils, and housing authorities struggling to provide enough rented accommodation to meet the growing need, and as house prices continue to creep up, this requirement is only going to get more significant.

The (current!) government announced plans in the Autumn Statement, and reiterated them in the recent Housing Whitepaper, that there are plans to help build further properties, however in the mean time, it seems the market is in an impossible situation.

Is this really the whole picture though? Seemingly not, according to research from crowdfunding-organisation Property Partner. Their data has revealed that there is 200,145 long-term empty properties in England alone, worth a staggering £43 billion!

In London, one of the hottest property markets in the world, the research suggests that there were 19,845 properties sat empty for over six months in 2016. Birmingham came second as the worst area for empty homes, with 4,397 homes empty – a shocking figure for one of the UK’s most in-demand cites.

These figures lay bare the huge amount of housing stock lying empty across the country. Dealing with this issue represents a fantastic opportunity to free up supply and help alleviate the scarcity of affordable housing nationally. We’d like to see the trend of the last decade continue, particularly where prices and demand are highest. That’s why it is a concern that in London, 14 of 33 boroughs saw an increase in empty homes compared with the previous year. It would be encouraging to see that number reduce over the course of 2017, particularly when you consider that in and around London, some of the poorest workers are being pushed towards spending more than 40% of their income on rent. Tackling empty homes is one of the ways Britain can fix its broken housing market.

Dan Gandesha, CEO of Property Partner

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