A lettings agency is calling on local councils to tackle the growing problem of long-term empty homes.
My Property Box says that with rising numbers of people on housing waiting lists or living in temporary accommodation, the total number of long-term empty homes in the North East of England rose from 20,992 in 2018 to 22,143 in 2019, according to government data.
More specifically, latest figures reveal the number of mostly privately-owned homes that stand empty for more than six months has increased by nine per cent across the Tees Valley, two per cent in County Durham and four per cent in Tyne and Wear. In North Yorkshire the rate has fallen by one per cent.
Now Ben Quaintrell, the founder and managing director of Darlington-based My Property Box, is urging councils to take advantage of extra government powers to ensure more properties are turned back into homes.
He was speaking after North Tyneside Council became the latest local authority to increase its council tax charges on empty homes. From this April it will double the charge on homes unoccupied for more than two years, while properties empty for more than five years face a 200 percent premium and those empty for more than a decade will attract a 300 per cent premium.
“It’s amazing when you realise just how many homes are classed as being long-term unoccupied when this country is struggling to build sufficient social and low-cost housing to meet the huge demand” says Quaintrell.
“Many of these properties are situated in more deprived areas and the longer they remain empty, the greater the chance is that they will fall into a serious state of disrepair. This in turn can have a serious effect on the local area, deflating house values and attracting anti-social behaviour.
“Many of these homes could easily be brought back into use whilst providing an annual rental income for the owners. Bringing extra properties onto the private rental market could go a long way to easing the national housing crisis.”