Tower Hamlets is worst borough in London for vacant houses

Pic: Ian S

Over the last year, Tower Hamlets saw a 175 per cent rise in the number of vacant homes over the past year, making it the highest of any London borough, according to new data. 

A new report by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities has revealed that Tower Hamlets has 960 more vacant houses than it did in 2021.

This is despite the borough having one of the highest rates of homelessness in ​​London as well as 21,249 households currently on the council house waiting list. It is the third-longest council waiting list in London behind Lambeth and Newham.

A report by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) revealed that the total number of rough sleepers in Tower Hamlets from July-September 2022 was 192.

In contrast to Tower Hamlets, the charity Action on Empty Homes revealed that the number of long-term vacant homes in Croydon increased by just one per cent in and Lewisham managed to reduce the number of empty houses it had by 13 per cent in the same year.

Hackney, which had the highest percentage of vacant homes in 2021, was able to reduce its total by 30 per cent.

Pic: Areeba Hasan

In London, the overall number of long-term empty houses has increased to almost 36,000 – a nine per cent increase.

Across England, 20,000 more long-term homes are now vacant compared to 2021– bringing the total up to 257,331.

With the exception of the pandemic, when the housing market was shut down, this is the highest level of empty houses in England in more than a decade. 

Action on Empty Homes tweeted: “Continued growth in long-term empty homes while our housing crisis intensifies sends a clear message: we are failing to meet housing needs and failing to make best use of our existing homes.”

A solution to the problem could be the New Homes Bonus, a grant provided by the central government to councils when long-term vacant properties are occupied

Payments to the New Homes Bonus this year have already decreased by £66 million suggesting that councils must do more to ensure that empty properties are occupied.

The New Homes Bonus ends in 2023.

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