Why those empty homes?

On a short street in London’s travel zone one, where residential skyscrapers rise as symbols of the city’s affordable housing crisis, four family homes stand empty. Three are owned by Southwark council, which has 11,000 families on its waiting list for social housing. They have been “voids”, as the council describes them, for more than six months, the government’s definition of long-term empty. No 20 has been empty for more than two and a half years. The fourth house, which can be traced to an Italian commodities trader, has been empty for almost a decade.

They’re going to sell it/them apparently.

But there we have it, empty homes etc. And – agreed, very limited sample – 75% of the problem is councils taking too damn long. Comrade Corby’s plan to nick that one off the Italian isn’t going to be the solution, is it?

16 comments on “Why those empty homes?

  1. where residential skyscrapers rise as symbols of the city’s affordable housing crisis

    Only in the Guardian is ultra-high density residential property a symbol of an “affordable housing crisis”. Are these people even capable of logical thought?

  2. “which has 11,000 families on its waiting list for social housing.” != families who need social housing as Bob Crow demonstrated.

  3. An affordable housing crisis in Zone 1 is the same thing presumably as an affordable Rolls Royce crisis or poor access to Beluga caviar for people on benefits?

    I’m crying so hard that my hot salty tears are making the pixels run.

  4. BiND – true, but at least Bob Crow has vacated his social housing and if there’s any justice has up-sized to a furnace which I firmly believe to be in the private sector.

  5. @Bongo

    Agreed. Been saying it for years.

    Voids are never less than 2 weeks- where choice based letting is in play. Average time is six weeks. Most private houses are unoccupied for about six hours, as one family moves out and one in.

  6. A few years ago my tenants moved out. I went in to do some between-tenants tidying up and discovered a rotten floor joist. Got the floor lifted and joist replaced. While redecorating front bedroom a huge storm and a damp patch ran down the wall as the gutter fell apart. Replaced gutter, stripped and replastered the wall. One coat of paint away from finishing everything, I turned my back for half a day and a pipe burst, flooding the dining room. Everything on hold while I save up to replace the bathroom and dining room and – by this time – most of the carpets.

    So, that’s the house been “standing empty” for just over three years now.

  7. Bongo, my local council (Walsall) got out of the housing game years ago. Sold off all the properties for about £1600 each then required the housing associations who purchased them to do them up. People who had been waiting years for council repairs had new windows, central heating, fixed roofs and generally improved accommodation.
    Now empty properties are the housing association’s problem and to be honest, despite living on an ex council estate I don’t see many properties empty for long.

  8. Nothing that hadn’t been sorted out in 1776 by a laissez faire political economist.No reason why a public sector landlord shouldn’t pay LVT.

  9. It does sound like that a renovation that makes commercial sense for a private sale doesn’t for social housing. Coupled with a lack of contractors willing to take on the work. Wonder why?

  10. @Anon, one of our tenants moved out. We then discovered lots of damage, plus the place needed redecorating after 7 years. So three weeks later it’s back on the market and we’re having to fight potential tenants off. Our longest void between tenants was 3 months.

  11. @ DBC Reed
    Adam Smith did not tackle the question of why local councils failed to re-let council housinmg because council housing hadn’t been invented at the time.
    Your perception is sadly lacking if you think that local councils will be worried about paying LVT on empty properties – their loss is the rent that they do not receive, LVT would be an invariant cost on the propertywhether occupied or unoccupied. They aren’t worried about the loss of rent now so they would no be if LVT existed.

  12. @ SadButMadLad: yes, with my other property I’ve had 30 voids out of 324 quarters, with the longest void being two quarters that included Christmas/NewYear.

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