Empty homes in England rises to more than 216,000

The number of empty homes across England has risen for the second year running to more than 216,000, its highest level since 2012 (when 254,059 properties were empty) according to official figures.

The number of long-term vacant properties (those that have been empty for at least six months) rose by 5.3 per cent to 216,186 in the 12 months to October. They now account for £53.6bn of property according to analysis by modular home and school builder Project Etopia. The rise compares with a 2.6 per cent increase in the previous year. Prior to then the number of empty homes had fallen every year since 2008.

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, particularly for first-time buyers who desperately want to claim the keys to their first property.”

The biggest increases in the number of empty homes have been seen in coastal towns and cities. Portsmouth recorded the biggest increase (to 939), followed by Hartlepool (to 726) and then Eastbourne (to 518). The largest number of long-term empty homes are in London, which has risen 11 per cent to 22,481 (representing £10.7bn of property) while Birmingham has 4,283 long-term vacant homes, followed by Durham with 4,130, Bradford with 4,090 and Liverpool with 3,889. In Durham and Liverpool the number of empty homes fell by nine per cent and almost five per cent respectively.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor