Author Lauren Howells

There has been a spike in the amount of “long-term empty” homes on London’s commuter belt, the BBC has reported.

According to an article on the BBC website, the number of long-term empty homes throughout the UK, which are those that have not been occupied for over six months and are not furnished, had fallen from around 300,000 to 200,000 between 2010 and 2016.

BBC’s Shared Data Unit discovered “wide regional variations”

After analysing official government data, the BBC has said that it’s Shared Data Unit discovered “wide regional variations”. It became apparent that out of the 20 local authorities that had the “largest percentage increases” in empty homes from 2015 – 2016, 14 of these were in the South East.

“Buy to leave” investors may be active in those areas

The BBC mentioned that experts said that “buy to leave” investors, investors who buy property and do not rent it out but simply leave it vacant while the land value increases, were “active in those areas”.

South East “all the more attractive” for those investors “only interested in capital appreciation”

“Spike” in empty homes on London’s commuter belt, says BBC

Property agent Henry Pryor reportedly told the BBC:

“For those investors who are only interested in capital appreciation, rather than rental yield, the South East is all the more attractive.”

The BBC went on to say that “one in ten” English councils had recorded the highest number of long-term empty properties “per square kilometre for five years” in 2016.

Barrow-in-Furness has the biggest concentration of long-term empty homes

The BBC discovered that the biggest concentration of long-term empty homes in 2016 was in Barrow-in-Furness, closely followed by Burnley.

It found that the greatest increases from 2015-2016 were seen in Harrow, followed by Brentwood and Three Rivers.

Chancellor announced councils would be able to charge 100% extra council tax on empty homes

Last week, it was announced in the budget that councils would be able to charge 100% extra council tax on empty homes. This will apply to properties that have been empty for two years or more. At the moment, councils are only able to charge up to 50% extra on these properties.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond said:

“I want to address the issue of empty properties. It can’t be right to leave the property empty when so many are desperate for a place to live.”

The Guardian says that the plan has been “labelled a joke”

However, the Guardian reported that the government’s plan to deal with the housing crisis in this way, by increasing the amount local authorities can charge in council tax for empty homes, has been “labelled a joke”.

The Guardian reported that Henry Pryor had said that this increased tax would be “water off an oligarch’s back” and would have no effect on “wealthy buyers”.