Nearly 10,000 homes sit empty in ELL boroughs, as over 60,000 households wait on council housing lists

Brokesley Estate, Tower Hamlets Pic: Alex Pink / Flickr

Close to 10,000 homes stand empty across the Eastlondonlines boroughs, while 60,491 households wait on council housing lists.

Tower Hamlets has 2,317 empty houses, while 23,128 households wait on the council’s housing list. In Croydon, those figures stand at 2,962 and 7,880; in Hackney they are 2,255 and 13,423; and in Lewisham 2,253 and 16,060. This totals 9,787 empty homes, out of a total of 483,508 dwellings, of which nearly one third have been vacant for more than six months.

The latest figures on empty homes were released last month by charity Homes From Empty Homes.

David Ireland, chief executive said: “When properties stand empty, the effects of that are borne by others. These empty spaces are being kept off the market when there are people that need homes.”

According to Shelter, the total number of households waiting to move into council housing across the ELL boroughs stands at 60,491. Across the capital, that figure stands at 366,613, while the total number of vacant dwellings in inner London is 1,447,818. Twenty five per cent of these have been empty for over six months.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “With homelessness rising and millions priced out of the housing market, it is simply wrong that homes stand empty while people across the country are desperately in need of a roof over their head.”

Ireland believes that, beyond issues of housing need, empty properties are eyesores that eat up public spending and reduce the quality of life for those around them.

He said: “If a house is not in used it often falls into wreck and ruin. Derelict houses are out of control, and for the people who live next to one, that can reduce their quality of life. For owners, their empty properties are devalued by 20 per cent.

“Empty houses are five times more likely to catch fire than an occupied house. There are also problems with vandalism. There is no advantage to anyone – owner or otherwise – to keep them empty.”

Across all four ELL boroughs, the demand for council housing outweighs the supply.

Chart showing the number of empty properties, council-owned homes, households accepted as homeless and households waitlisted for council housing in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon based on Shelter figures:

Based on the figures, even if all current empty properties in the boroughs were inhabited, there would still be a large number of those who still need homes.

Robb said: “Bringing empty homes back in to use alone is not enough to solve the housing crisis. The government now needs to focus on getting our construction sector going, so we can go back to building the good quality affordable family homes that are also desperately needed.”

Ireland was more hopeful: “We have a good thing. For the first time in a long time the figures are going in the right direction, they are going down. There was a reduction of 19,000 empty homes [in the UK] in the past 12 months. That is a significant figure against the fact that 100,000 houses were built last year in the country.”

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