Londoners top list of Britons most angered by prevalence of empty homes


Paresh Raja MFS

Londoners are the angriest of all Britons about the prevalence of empty properties on their streets, new research from Market Financial Solutions (MFS) has revealed.

The specialist lender commissioned an independent survey of 2,000 UK adults. Over half (58%) said they have seen a rise in the number of empty or derelict commercial properties on their local high street over the past five years, while 25% have noticed an increase in the number of empty or derelict houses on their street in the same period.

A separate study by Leeds Building Society earlier this year found that over 600,000 residential properties in the UK stand vacant at present, marking a 4% increase (or 23,000) in the past year alone.

On average, 34% of Britons state that their local area suffers from there being too many run-down, empty or derelict properties. But the extent of the issue varies significantly by region.

At 45%, London had the highest proposition of people who feel their local areas is blighted by empty and derelict properties. This was followed by North East (44%) and Wales (38%).

The East of England (22%), South East (26%) and Midlands (28%) are the least frustrated by the issue.

MFS’s research found 67% of UK adults would like to see the government do more to incentivise people to buy and renovate empty properties.

Most (61%) think there should be stricter regulations to clamp down on people leaving properties vacant, with 51% in favour of new rules to make landlords sell properties if they have been empty for more than 12 months.

Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents believe that putting empty buildings back onto the property market would be the most effective way of solving the UK’s housing shortage.

Paresh Raja, CEO of MFS, said:

“Our research shines a light on a crucial societal issue: the prevalence of empty and derelict properties across the UK.

We can see that people in London – where competition for housing is particularly fierce – are especially frustrated by the problem.

Clearly, most Britons would like to see more proactive government action to ensure derelict properties are renovated and put back onto the market.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that the responsibility should not rest solely on the shoulders of the public sector.

The private sector can – and must – significantly contribute to resolving this challenge as well.

Whether it is financing the acquisition of properties at auctions or funding the renovations required to bring these buildings up to scratch, lenders, developers and investors have an important role to play in transforming abandoned properties and, in doing so, boosting the UK’s housing stock.”