Tens of thousands of London homes have been left uninhabited for so long they are considered “long-term vacant” with more than 1,100 of them empty for over a decade, according to data obtained by the Guardian.
Despite a chronic shortage of housing in the capital, more than 22,000 homes have been left empty by their owners for longer than six months, data received from London boroughs in response to freedom of information requests has revealed.
Councils looking to bring vacant properties back into use have a range of options, including levying an additional rate of council tax, helping homeowners with the cost of repairs, or even compulsory purchase orders.
But the data shows that a large proportion of the homes have been empty for years rather than months, calling into question efforts to ensure existing housing stock does not go to waste.
More than a third of the total – 8,561 – have been left uninhabited for over two years, according to the data, with 1,151 empty for more than a decade.
Siân Berry, the Green party candidate for mayor of London, said: “With homelessness rising to crisis proportions it’s not right that so many properties should be sitting empty, and for so long.
“The best way of bringing them back into use is via self-help housing groups – in many cases building a constructive relationship with the owner, who may well not have wanted the property to fall into disuse in the first place and will welcome efforts to put matters right.”