Action on Empty Homes group has introduced an Empty Homes Week in order to draw attention to the problem of empty homes currently in the UK. The group estimates that the number of empty homes nationally stands at around 216,000, which could house almost one million people. Action on Empty Homes was founded in 1992 in an attempt to ensure that empty homes were brought back into use for those that required housing.
Growing Number of Empty Homes
A home is classed as empty if it has not been occupied for at least six months, and it appears that the number of empty homes is growing, with the Guardian reporting that the number increased by almost 11,000 in 2018. This was the fastest rise in long-term empty homes since the last recession.
Why Are So Many Houses Left Unoccupied for So Long?
Of course, there are many contributory factors. Inefficiencies within local authorities can be blamed for long-term empty properties, especially at the lower end of the market. At the other end of the market, Action for Empty homes cites the ‘Buy to Leave’ practice as a major concern, as there are thousands of luxury properties in London which have been bought by investors and remain empty.
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, cites difficulties in the conveyancing process as one reason that homes are left empty for prolonged periods. Conveyancing can be a long process and in 2018: almost 20% of complaints about law firms were regarding delays during the conveyancing process. For those in difficult personal or legal circumstances, such as those who have been bereaved, are arranging elderly care or are in a legal dispute, the process of selling a house will be even more stressful and time-consuming, and properties can then be just left in limbo. One option for selling a house quickly is to auction it, but many people are unfamiliar with the conveyancing procedure for auctions. It is vital to find accurate and reliable information on this from reputable conveyancers, such as the information at https://samconveyancing.co.uk/
As well as campaigning, Action on Empty Homes has developed practical ideas to address the issue, and their ideas have been adopted as local practice and national policy. They hope Empty Homes Week will draw attention and help to develop further solutions.