A lettings sector trade body is demanding that the government brings forward tax measures to address what it calls “the scourge of empty homes.”
According to new figures, between October 2017 and October 2018 the number of empty homes in England increased by almost 30,000 from some 606,000 to over 634,000.
Of these, the number of homes classed as being empty for six months or more increased by over 10,000 from more than 205,000 in October 2017 to over 216,000 in October 2018.
Analysis by modular home company Project Etopia says long-term vacant homes now account for £53.6 billion of property in England.
With the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors having warned that the supply of new homes for private rent “continue to dwindle” whilst tenant demand increases, the Residential Landlords Association is calling for pro-growth tax measures to bring empty homes back into use.
The RLA is urging the government to scrap its additional stamp duty levy on buy to let properties where landlords invest in long-term empty homes and bring them back into use within a reasonable period of time.
“The scandal of empty homes at a time when so many are finding it difficult to access accommodation is just one reason why pro-growth tax is needed” says John Stewart, the RLA policy manager.
“The government should support good landlords to do what they have always been good at – investing in property and bringing it back into long term use.”
Project Etopia says that of all towns and cities in England, Portsmouth saw the biggest percentage rise in long-term empty homes last year, with 101.5 per cent more properties standing empty, totalling 939.
Hartlepool saw the second biggest rise (53.8 per cent to 726), while Eastbourne posted the third largest increase (48.4 per cent to 518).
Birmingham had the highest overall number in the country with 4,283 long-term vacant homes, barely changed on the previous year and rising just 0.07 per cent, followed by Durham with 4,130 and Bradford with 4,090.