Housing crisis: more than 200,000 homes in England lie empty : Guardian.

Birmingham is the city outside London with the most unused properties, followed by Bradford and Liverpool, new figures show

An empty house in Mayfair, London, that has been taken over by a group of squatters.
An empty house in Mayfair, London, that has been taken over by a group of squatters. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

More than 200,000 homes in England with a total value of £43bn were empty for at least six months during 2016 despite the desperate shortage of properties to rent and buy.

According to official figures, Birmingham was the worst affected city outside London with 4,397 empty homes worth an estimated £956m, followed by Bradford and Liverpool.

The wealthy borough of Kensington and Chelsea was the worst performer in London as super-rich owners rejected renting them out or selling up in favour of leaving their properties lying idle.

The royal borough had 1,399 empty homes worth £664m, compared with second-placed Croydon, which had 1,216 empty homes worth £577m.

Across London there were 19,845 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016, which amounted to £9.4bn worth of property, based on the average price in London of £474,704.

In response squatters groups have sought to occupy empty homes, with one group in January taking over a £15m central London property purchased by a Russian oligarch in 2014 to open it as a homeless shelter.

Councils and the government have worked to cut the number of empty homes, primarily by reducing tax incentives which encouraged owners to leave properties unused.

In recent years most councils have increased council tax bills on second homes and adopted stricter rules on council tax discounts for empty homes.

But some councils appear to have worked harder than others to make inroads into the stock of empty homes. While Birmingham recorded a 13% jump in empty properties in the last year and Liverpool suffered a 5% rise to 3,449, Manchester registered the greatest fall over a decade, dropping 88% to 1,365.

Towns and cities in the north and Midlands filled the top 20 list of local authority areas with the highest number of empty homes. Blackburn shot up the rankings to ninth place after a 35% jump, the biggest increase of any authority outside London, pushing neighbouring Bolton into 10th place.

Read More : The Guardian.

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