Largest number of empty homes are in Greater London, analysis shows

Rents grow

Greater London has the highest number of unoccupied properties in England with over 3.5 million, of which 22,500 are long term vacant homes, new research has found.

Some 8% of these are in Southwark, 7% in Croydon, and 5% in each of the boroughs of Camden, Lewisham and Kensington and Chelsea, according to the analysis from insurance firm HomeProtect using its own data and Government figures.

Outside of London, Birmingham has the highest number of vacant properties at 4,283, followed by Durham at 4,130, Bradford at 4,090, Liverpool at 3,703, Cornwall at 2,702 and Leeds at 2,788.

Looking at the broader picture, the report says that large metropolitan cities are the predominant contributor to the total number of vacant dwellings, however, smaller coastal towns and cities are also experiencing a high volume of empty homes. For example, some 2% of the total properties in Blackpool, North East Lincolnshire and Torbay in Devon are empty.

The report gives some idea of why properties lie empty. It suggests that in London boroughs such as Southwark there could be a lot of properties undergoing renovation work, other so called vacant properties could be let out on a short term basis. Others could be in probate after a death or even abandoned.

It also suggests that one reason for there being a large number of unoccupied properties near the sea is because they’re being used as holiday homes while a lot could be old cottages that require work that people are buying and doing up.

‘Multi-millionaires will buy properties with no intent of even using them as a home or holiday home, but purely to be held as an investment,’ said property expert Emily Evans.

She also explained that a lot of landlords are now letting short term and with restrictions in some locations on the number of days they can be let, they are left empty for the rest of the year. Also, if a property is registered as a business premises, council tax may not be payable.

Looking at the five year period from 2013 to 2018, the Government data shows that there has been a 0.06% increase in unoccupied properties across England. However, there was a substantial dip in the number of vacant properties between 2013 and 2017, down to 200,145 before rising to 216,186 in 2018 to almost match the 2013 figure of 216,050.

The areas that experienced the most dramatic increase in empty homes between 2013 and 2018 were the City of London and Croydon, which have each seen an 81% rise. Outside of London, the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall recorded a 100% increase, York 71% and Slough 50%.

There was a significant fall of 394% decrease in Westminster, a fall of 189% in Herefordshire, a fall of 185% in Wandsworth, a fall of 135% in Manchester and a fall of 130% in Thurrock.