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Number of long term empty homes rises by 14% in Ealing

New research based on Government data published on 9 November 2022 has seen Ealing among boroughs across London showing a rise in the number of empty homes.

In 2021 there were 506 long term empty properties across Ealing’s seven towns and in 2022 this rose to 576, a rise of 14%. While in 2020 the number was 406. In 2019 the number was 516 which dropped from a previous high of 850 in 2018 following an increase from 801 in 2017.

The data which was number crunched by campaign group Action on Empty Homes, also revealed neighbouring borough Brent was down from 1414 in 2021 to 1114 in 2022 and Hillingdon was down from 518 in 2021 to 396 in 2022.

Action on Empty Homes also highlighted that according to the data from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities across England showed a rise of 20,000 unoccupied homes to 257,331 total.

Chris Bailey, national campaign manager for Action on Empty Homes, said: “A new national empty homes programme is long overdue – government needs to step up to the plate and offer funding and incentives to get these homes back into use.”

He added: “Long-term empties are a huge missed opportunity to invest in green retrofit and create new jobs. Continued growth in long-term empty homes while our housing crisis intensifies sends a clear message, we are failing to meet housing need and failing to make best use of our existing homes.”

Mr Bailey said councils need “better powers” to help people. “Local councils need better powers to bring empty homes back into use and to stop Airbnb and short-lets sucking homes out of residential use. But we also need to be increasing supplies of social housing, instead of losing more to ‘Right to buy’ than we build every single year.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson told EALING.NEWS:  “When identifying empty properties, we initially aim to locate the owners and work together with them to bring the property back into use. Each property is assessed based on how long they have been empty, their condition, and location. There are many factors to consider when bringing a property back into use. Owners could be elderly or vulnerable people or there could be different potential owners involved in conflicts over rightful ownership, which can often be complex or difficult to establish, for example if owners live overseas.”

They added: “We offer the property owners advice, guidance and financial incentives, including Empty Property Grants. A condition of the grant is that the council has nomination rights to the newly-renovated properties to enable the council to provide homes for families in need. We only use enforcement tactics if all other options have been exhausted. You can read more on our approach is detailed in the council’s Empty Property Strategy 2017-2022.”

Ealing Conservative Councillor Fabio Conti told EALING.NEWS: “Homes should not be left empty in the midst of a housing shortage. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will make it easier for local authorities to charge higher council tax for empty second homes. This step will bring these properties back into use.”

Director of Action on Empty Homes, Will McMahon, said: “These figures are exceptionally worrying. We see an escalating housing crisis while the number of long-term empty homes keeps rising – that shows our housing policy failing. Today there are nearly 100,000 families languishing in overcrowded and temporary accommodation.”

He added: “Action on Empty Homes calls on Government to introduce a new national empty homes programme to create additional housing supply for those in most housing need, utilising properties currently left vacant or in need of renovation.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council told EALING.NEWS: “Liberal Democrats think that it is better that the Council do more to bring back empty homes into use rather than just build tall buildings to provide extra accommodation. A number of years ago the Liberal Democrats managed to persuade the Council to charge more Council Tax to incentivise owners who left a property empty for a long time”.

He added: “If Labour were good at this, then they could generate lots of new homes with little negatively and provide homes spread across the borough rather than in a few hot spot areas. Labour needs to do more on this important issue.

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