Since 2012, we're seeing the highest number of unoccupied homes in London - nearly 25,000 are sat empty with no occupants.
However, more than 56,000 families fell back on temporary homes between April and June 2019. This temporary accommodation was often no good for their needs.
Labour's London Assembly housing spoksesperson, Tom Copley AM, has said "With so many thousands of families being forced to languish in often insecure and unsuitable temporary accommodation, it is unacceptable for homes to lie empty and unused.
“While bringing empty homes into use won’t solve the housing crisis by itself, it’s in everyone’s interests to clamp down on this entirely needless waste and injustice. But if we are to make any significant progress, local authorities whose budgets have been recklessly slashed over a decade of austerity, desperately need a helping hand from Central government.
“As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was vocal in his support of much stronger measures to get to grips with this issue. Now that he has his hands on the necessary levers of power, he must restore government funding and devolve much greater powers to local authorities specifically aimed at targeting empty homes.”
Buy to leave
It seems that there is a 'buy to leave' trend in London where people are buying homes so they can keep hold of them in London, but then leaving them empty. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, thinks that council tax premiums for vacant homes should be increased in an effort to reduce those buying houses to leave them unoccupied.
Currently, local authorities have the power to charge more for council tax on properties which have had no tenants for a long time, plus enforce mandatory purchase orders and empty property management orders.
However, it seems like more funding is needed to tackle the problem, especially as it gets worse and worse.
Action on Empty Homes
In 2019, Action on Empty Homes, a campaign group, released a report which included recommendations for local authorities to turn vacant properties into affordable housing for the thousands of struggling families.
They have claimed that the government should dedicate funding to local authorities to help combat the issue of too many vacant homes, when more affordable housing is needed. They also think that a national investment programme should be started which invites community led organisations to help with the issue in question.
The government between 2012 and 2015 dedicated £156 million in funding to make use of empty homes. But this wasn't all; the Clusters of Empty Homes Programme brought in an extra £60 million to this funding.
After 2015, this type of funding for these schemes was cancelled, which is likely why we are now seeing a rise in empty homes again.
Now, in 2019, the government is going to bring in a rule which permits councils to charging up to 200% more in council tax on vacant homes. However, this only applies to properties which have been empty for over 5 years. This rule is set to come into play in April.