Long-term empty property trends

The number of unoccupied properties in England used to be a growing issue but are they finally being put to use? View our animated map to see how trends have changed in London and the whole of England, in the past 10 years.

Hundreds of thousands of properties have been found to sit empty every year. New figures from the government reveal that over 200,000 properties were vacant for at least 6 months in the last year alone.

Using government figures, we produced a heat map of London to visualise the decline of long-term empty properties in each London Borough. From 2005, it’s easy to see the hotspots, where the most empty properties are located, and how those trends have changed over the years.

Small changes are apparent between 2005 and 2009, but from 2010 West London is the most proactive in reducing the number of empty properties, followed by East London from 2013.

Interestingly, boroughs up and down the middle of the heat map including Lambeth, Islington, Barnet and Camden all reduced the number of empty properties at a much slower rate.

Haringey, Lewisham and Kensington and Chelsea were the only boroughs whose number of empty properties increased between 2005 and 2015. Kensington and Chelsea had 1,224 long-term empty properties in 2005 and 1,289 in 2015. When all other boroughs, excluding Haringey and Lewisham, recorded a significant decline it’s surprising to see so many properties in Kensington and Chelsea remain vacant.

1.1 Empty properties in England

In England, the number of long-term empty properties has fallen by 35% between 2005 and 2015. Though an increase occurred in 2008, the number of empty properties has since continued to fall, plateauing in the last two years.

1.2 Empty properties in London Boroughs

As we might expect, the number of empty properties in London follows a similar pattern to that seen across England. However, at the time of the financial crash in 2008, the number of empty properties in England increased, whereas in London a slight reduction is shown. Finally, for first time since 2009, we see the number of empty properties in London rise -- from 20,795 to 20,915.

London property attracts a lot of media attention. At a time of housing crisis, it’s argued that foreign investors have turned the capital into a ‘buy-to-leave’ city. In fact, research by Transparency International UK revealed that 36,342 London properties are held by hidden companies in offshore havens. And no one knows who owns them.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

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