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At a time when London remains in the midst of a housing shortage there are now over 20,000 homes sitting empty across the city. In research carried out this month this equates to £11. 7 billion worth of property currently vacant in London.
Reading and having to hear about just how overpriced London is, is nothing new, however as the number of those having to sleep rough in London is still debated as well as the availability of affordable housing failing to meet demand the sheer number of homes sitting empty and the cost of these properties is staggering.
Using data from the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as the Land Registry, the research was able to examine the number of empty homes that have sat vacant in each London borough for over 6 months, analysing this against the average property price in each area to calculate the cost of empty homes to the city.
The information on this page will lay out the research to show just how many empty homes sit vacant in each London borough and the associated property value.
Cost of Empty Homes in London by Borough
Unsurprisingly, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea had the highest value of property currently sat vacant, with almost £2 billion worth of empty homes. In total there were 1,399 empty homes in the borough which have sat vacant for longer than six months, the largest number of empty properties of all 33 London boroughs.
Camden ranked as the borough with the second highest in terms of value of property that currently sits vacant. £967,789,876 worth of housing sits empty in the borough with 1,114 homes vacant, third highest overall.
Barking and Dagenham ranked second lowest in number of empty homes (110), only behind the smallest borough the City of London (48). Barking and Dagenham was also lowest in terms value of vacant property (£36,247,274) – No data from Land Registry on the average house price in the City of London.
Newham saw the biggest change in the number of empty homes year on year from 2015 to 2016 with 725 less empty homes in 2016 (593) compared to the year before 1,318. Islington also saw positive movements of 454 less empty homes in 2016 compared to 2015. However the Borough of Harrow didn’t see such great figures, with the number of empty homes in the area rising from 97 in 2015 to 651 last year. Enfield also saw a year on year increase of 268 from 817 in 2015 to 1,085 in 2016.
The following map shows a break down of each individual borough and the No. of empty homes and value of property vacant.
Why Are There so Many Empty Homes?
One of the key reasons there are so many empty homes in London is the investment in Buy-to-Leave property across the capital. This refers to homes being purchased solely as an investment, rather than to be lived in, the property is then left vacant with the expectation of a high return in capital when the home is eventually sold.
This may explain the high number of vacant dwellings in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea where the empty homes of some of the wealthiest streets in London has been widely covered in recent years. With the highest value of property vacant across the whole city and with a growing number of the borough’s total housing stock sitting vacant, increasing from 1,289 in 2015 to 1,399 last year it still remains to be seen how this issue will be tackled.
Another reason for the high number of empty homes in London is owners being unable to fund repairs to their property or carry out the necessary improvements to live in or even sell and rent the home. This is covered in more detail in Empty Homes’s research on the issue and in turn intensifies the problem as clusters of empty homes form and the area becomes associated with perceived social problems such as anti-social behavior.
Why the Issue of London’s Vacant Properties Needs to be Addressed
Analysis carried out by the London Council in 2013 estimated that more than 800,000 homes are needed by 2021 to keep up with housing demand in the capital. This calculation is made with the expectation that London’s population will sit around 9 Million by that time and the real shortage of homes already could lead to a greater crises if demand keeps growing. November 2016 did see Mayor of London Sadiq Khan lay out ambitious plans for more affordable housing with a record £3.15bn investment but this would support only 90,000 new homes.
Obviously this step is a move in the right direction, however as the figures above highlight there is still a real wastage of current housing stock. Empty Homes, the charity organisation quoted earlier do some excellent work on the issue of vacant properties and how more can be brought back in to use.
- Department for Communities and Local Government – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dwelling-stock-estimates-in-england-2016
- Land Registry – https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/average-house-prices-borough/resource/347f5ac3-919b-480f-bfd9-346349ab3da2
Full breakdown of data:
|London Borough||No. of Empty Homes||Value of Vacant Property (£)|
|Kensington and Chelsea||1,399||1,948,640,418
|City Of Westminster||473||500,577,541|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||381||321,262,922|
|Richmond upon Thames||332||222,854,553|
|Kingston upon Thames||181||82,485,043
|Barking and Dagenham||110||36,247,274
|City of London||48||N/A