Despite widespread concerns about a housing shortage, hundreds of thousands of homes across the UK are unoccupied. In England, around 200,000 properties have been empty for six months more longer. We looked at data for different measures across Nottinghamshire by council area.
The data, which does not include second homes, was sourced from:
- England’s Department for Communities and Local Government by the BBC Shared Data Unit.
Why are homes left vacant?
- Houses needing repairs prior to selling or letting may have stalled due to financial constraints and outside factors. This would affect investors and properties owned or inherited by private individuals.
- The ‘buy to leave’ phenomenon describes investors buying homes in areas with a buoyant housing market with no intention of letting or living in it as they wait for the property value to rise.
- Deprived areas of the country with lower housing prices and a greater number of houses built before 1919 affect housing occupation as locations may be seen as rundown and undesirable. Homeowners with financial problems may have had to leave a property empty.
What powers do local authorities have?
Local councils have the following powers to tackle empty homes, but they are not mandatory and their use varies across the UK:
- They can introduce a higher council tax premium for houses empty for over two years and increased council tax payments for owners of empty houses not over the two year threshold.
- Compulsory Purchase Orders allow local authorities to enforce the sale of empty homes that are blocking regeneration projects, or if there is a public interest
- Councils can temporarily take ownership of a property to rent out under a Empty Dwelling Management Order.
Helen Williams, director of the Empty Homes charity said:
“The Chancellor’s announcement of powers for local authorities in England to charge up to a 100% council tax premium on empty homes recognises the importance of taking action, however it is unlikely to be a sufficient enough deterrent for some wealthy investor buyers; a more thorough review of what would stop people from buying properties to leave empty, or hardly every used, is need.
“The announcement also did not address the blight of the high level of empty homes in lower house price neighbourhoods, often linked to the poor standard of housing in those places – we would have liked to have seen funding to address this by supporting community-based organisations to buy and do up empty homes to rent out at a truly affordable level to people priced out of decent housing.
“At the same time, it is worth bearing in mind that many owners of empty homes want to bring them back into use, and this is why advice from local authority empty homes staff can make a difference between a property being stuck empty and it being brought back to the market for rent or sale.”
Empty Homes in Nottinghamshire
Councils have been measured on
- Total empty homes in Nottinghamshire 2015
- Total empty homes in Nottinghamshire 2016
- % increase/decrease between 2015 and 2016
- Empty homes per square kilometre in 2016
- Empty homes per 100 people in 2016
- % change in empty properties between 2010 and 2016
Graphs explain the data below:
- Analysis identified 150 councils out of 360 where the number of long-term empty homes increased between October 2015 and October 2016 – only Ashfield and City registered small increases across the region. The numbers in our region were 46 more empty homes in Nottingham City, and 18 more in Ashfield.
- Below are the top 7 councils in England that suffered the largest percentage rises in the number of empty homes between 2015 and 2016.
- Below are the Top 10 ‘best’ council areas for reductions in vacant properties between 2015 and 2016.
- In some cases a measure of empty homes per 100 people or per square kilometre makes the data easier to read, for example population density in Nottingham city is clearly higher than in the boroughs. This is demonstrated below, though the city remains the highest area for the number of vacant properties.
Finally the comparison between empty homes in 2010 and 2016 show that all Nottinghamshire council areas have reduced these numbers.
The total Nottinghamshire unoccupied homes number for 2010 was 5,653 – in 2016 it is 3,872 – a drop of over 31% across all areas. This is positive but not as high as many areas.