Campaigners have warned failure to bring empty homes back into use and build housing that is affordable for all could hamper the Covid-19 recovery as they uncovered London’s vacant homes hotspots.
Action on Empty Homes (AEH) mapped the number of residential homes kept empty for long periods in the English capital and found the City of London came out on top with one in three homes empty in London’s financial district. Kensington and Chelsea – the borough where the Grenfell Tower disaster happened in 2017 – followed with one in eight homes left unoccupied.
Failing to build genuinely affordable homes is contributing to rising homelessness and not addressing the long-running housing crisis, according to AEH director Will McMahon as he called for more efforts to bring homes back into use and crack down AirBNBs.
“Year after year, London builds more of the wrong housing, houses fewer of those in acute need and increases homelessness,” said McMahon. “With at least 100,000 homes with no permanent residents it’s time for action. That means getting to grips with the 30,000 long-term empty homes in the capital, controls on Airbnb, and support for local communities that want the low-cost homes Londoners need, not more of the ones they can’t afford or never even get a chance to rent.”
Central London is hardest hit by the issue with one in 12 homes in Camden left vacant as well as one in 16 in Tower Hamlets according to AEH’s analyse of government council tax data.
In North London, one in 50 homes were left empty in Enfield compared to one in 33 in Barnet while one in every 38 homes in Merton, south-west London, are vacant.