The rise of vacant properties in the UK

There are many reasons that have contributed to the rise of vacant properties in the UK and this post takes a look at some of these issues.

Studies by the Office of National Statistics show that there is a rise in the number of empty homes in England, with the figure estimated at over a million vacant properties across the country.

As the British economy continues to recover from the recession, the disparity between those who can afford to purchase property and those who cannot has grown and that is evident in the numbers of homeless people and the amount of homes lying unused. Here are some of the reasons that have contributed to the rise of vacant properties in the UK.

An increase in buy-to-leave landlords

The rise in empty homes in England has not only been fuelled by the growing wealth gap in the country, it is also being driven by interest from wealthy foreign investors who like some of their UK counterparts, are happy to pay a lot of money for a property only to leave it empty.

This issue is recognised as a contributor to the housing shortage England is currently facing and while filling all the UK’s empty homes will not solve that issue on its own, there are calls for the government to do more about it.

Surprisingly, as can be seen in this empty homes graphic created by Property Rescue, a large number of the UK’s empty properties can be found in London, home to some of the highest property prices in the whole country. The issue of cost is also a contributing factor to this as we shall see below:

Property maintenance costs

Another reason cited in relation to the rise of empty homes in England is the issue of property maintenance costs. An example can be a property owner who is unable to do up the house in order for them to let it out; other homes may belong to elderly owners who may now be living in alternative accommodation.

The rising cost of property in the UK also means that the cost of looking after the property and maintaining it in a liveable condition can become prohibitive to some, leaving landlords with keeping it vacant as their only option.


The National Housing Federation estimates that up to a million new homes need to be built each year in order to alleviate England’s housing shortage significantly. As mentioned before, releasing the majority of empty homes in England may not achieve that objective, but I would most certainly help.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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