Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
Charities for the homeless have called for stronger measures to deal with the growing number of empty houses in Eng...
Charities for the homeless have called for stronger measures to deal with the growing number of empty houses in England, after figures showed that more than 750,000 properties are unoccupied.

The Guardian (p11) reports that returns by councils to the DETR show a rise of 11,500 in a year, destroying the misconception that the main cause of vacant property is council houses on bleak northern estates, abandoned as people move south in search of work.

The empty properties ranges from old Lancastrian terraces to boarded up structurally sound properties in London.

The Empty Homes Agency, a charity partly funded by the DETR, yesterday accused the government of complacency. 'It has a responsibility to take action and introduce tough policies to help councils, and others, tackle this blight,' said Ashley Horsey, chief executive.

'Questions have to be asked why, at a time of housing boom, the number of private homes standing empty has increased.'

The agency wants ministers to give councils discretionary powers to charge owners of long-term empty properties the full rate of council tax.

London councils and the agency also believe that speculators are taking advantage of the capital's property boom by sitting on empty houses in the hope of making a killing in the rising market. Around a third of London's 113,000 empty homes have been vacant for more than a year.

John Brownas, empty property officer for Croydon LBC, said: 'Investors seem to be looking at capital appreciation and hanging onto empty houses until they judge the market to be right so they can dispose of them - making a big profit without the need for either improving or renting.'

Croydon recently imposed a compulsory purchase order on a company that owned seven houses in one street, each of which had been empty for up to seven years.

Some councils, however, has been accused by the agency of ignoring the problem. It argues that the government should force all town halls to have an empty property strategy, which would set targets for brining vacant homes back into use.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.