Monday 23 September marked the start of National Empty Homes Week, which aims to shine a light on the high number of empty properties across towns and cities in the UK.
Empty Homes Week was founded by Action on Empty Homes and focuses on how it can serve those with housing needs. It estimates that nationally there are over 216,000 long-term empty dwellings – enough to house nearly 1 million people.
However, that only counts houses that have been empty for more than six months. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) estimates there were over 630,000 empty homes in October 2018, a 4.7% increase on the previous year.
Local authorities are one of the nation’s most notable owners of housing stock, with approximately 1.59 million homes under management of councils in England as of April 1 2018.
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, comments: “The reason why so many [houses] stand empty is multifaceted, but the key factor is just how drawn out and convoluted the property selling process can be. In 2018, almost one in five complaints about law firms were due to delays in the completion of conveyancing services.”
“For those dealing with complex personal and legal issues, such as bereavements, managing elderly care and legal disputes, the selling process becomes even more time consuming and inefficient, leaving precious properties in limbo and empty.”
He says that while local authorities play an integral role in helping house families in need, over 45,600 local authority houses are empty and Search Acumen estimates there could be more unaccounted for.
“On both the personal homebuying level and governmental housing management level, digital technology can help use resources more efficiently: whether that’s improving the transaction process or better managing large property portfolios,” he adds.
“With enough imagination and compassion, and common-sense use of the latest in data tech, we can help everyone get the home they want and make the most of what we already have.”