Housing

200,000 Empty Homes in England Worth £43 Billion

New research reveals almost 20,000 empty homes in London alone, worth a total of £9.4 billion

Empty houses. You may have spotted one or two at the end of your street, or noticed of a long row of them in a neglected neighbourhood, and wondered why once-fine buildings were going to waste.

New analysis of the problem shows there are a staggering 200,000 long-term empty homes in England. These properties, unused for six months or more, have a combined estimated value of £43 billion.

Outside of London, Birmingham has the biggest problem. There are 4,397 long-term empties in the city worth an estimated £956 million, according to research by Property Partner based on the latest local government figures.

In the capital, where the housing shortage is most intense, almost 20,000 homes worth a whopping £9.4 billion in total are still lying empty.

These figures lay bare the huge amount of housing stock lying empty across the country

While a lot of empty homes are the product of failed or stalled regeneration schemes, many are second or third homes privately owned by people who are hoping for their value to increase before selling.

The Big Issue has urged central government and local authorities to address Britain’s chronic housing problem by incentivizing use and exploring new ways to refurbish the nation’s derelict stock.

Our Fill ‘Em Up campaign has explored various ways to restore empty buildings as a way of increasing housing supply.

Many councils have tightened up on discounts on council tax for un-lived in homes, and some social enterprises and community land trusts (CLTs) like Granby 4 Streets in Liverpool have brought long-derelict streets back into use.

There is also some good news from the latest numbers. Several central London boroughs like Lambeth and Newham have recorded falls in the number of unused homes.

“Councils have had the power to apply to seize empty homes since 2006 and huge advances have been made over the last ten years,” Dan Gandesha, chief executive of Property Partner. “(But) these figures lay bare the huge amount of housing stock lying empty across the country.”

Our 2020 Impact Report

The Big Issue has given more than £1 million support to Big Issue vendors struggling due to the lockdown restrictions. To mark the significant milestone, we have published an impact report, documenting the seismic shift the organisation has undergone in the past 12 months.

View Report

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?
Angela Rayner announces Labour new town plan
Housing

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them
Renters angry at no-fault evictions, Renters Reform Bill delay and a lack of rent controls
RENTING

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'
Housing crisis

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?
Scottish first minister John Swinney
Housing

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know