There are estimated to be around 635,000 empty homes in England. Of those, 216,000 homes (or just over one-third) have been unoccupied for longer than six months, including some 22,000 of which are in London, where housing pressures are particularly intense.
Its easy to think “Why is she writing about this on the Effingham property blog! Well, the reason is that so many people are not aware that if we put into use even a fifth of empty homes, we wouldn’t need the 13,040 new homes that Guildford want to build – so of which are targeted in the local plan as being in the Horsley greenbelt area.
More empty homes available than proposed new builds
In the Local Authority of Guildford the last reported statistics from the Office of National Statistics reported 49,860 dwellings were vacant in the Local Authority of Guildford, and out of these 20,869 were classed as long term empty, this data excludes known second homes. If we add in the number of second homes that are also classed as long term empty, we can add another 44,575 homes into the overall number of empty dwellings in Guildford which stands at 69,116 which is 4% of the housing stock.
Guildford Borough councils final monitoring report 2014 reported that “Our draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) identifies a demographically led objectively assessed need for 652 homes per year, which is 13,040 homes over the plan period (20 years, starting from a base date of 2011). Our emerging draft Local Plan proposes a housing number for Guildford borough of 652 homes a year, and identifies land that would help to provide this number of new homes.”
It is notable that the vast majority of these homes are in private hands, with private owners accounting for 91 per cent of all empty dwellings, and probably an even higher percentage of all long-term empty homes. The opposite of Buy-To-Let is Buy-to-Leave and its a recognised practice where companies and individuals buy properties not as homes, but for their investment return and then leave them empty.
Bringing empty properties back into use also makes economic sense. Even where owners do not wish to sell their properties, they can rent them out for periods as short as six months at a time. The government came up with a plan to bring these homes into the system by giving local authorities powers under an act called the Empty Dwellings Management Order (EDMO) whereby a council can apply this order insisting the property is rented out. To read more about EDMO click here.
If you area an owner of either an empty property, even if this is a second home, why not contact your local letting agent and get professional advice on considering letting out the property, what the costs vs income may be and seeing if it is a plausible venture for you. A good letting Agent will be able to discuss all aspects of the lettings process including how to insure against non paying tenants. Often people don’t look at letting because they have fears or because they feel the income could leave them worse of financially – this need not be so.
The more homes that come back into service, the less the need to keep building new ones and the more of our greenbelt we should save.