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.”

Join The Ride Out Recession Alliance

The Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) will develop and implement practical steps and solutions to prevent families losing their homes, and help people remain in employment.

Learn More

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?
uk heatwave
Homelessness

How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism
Homelessness

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'
A homeless person is interviewed on the streets of Sutton
Rough sleeping

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'
Housing

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'

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

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.