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Could Britain’s empty homes accommodate the homeless?

Utilising just 41.4% of Britain’s empty homes could house the homeless, according to research by estate agent comparison website, GetAgent.co.uk.

Shelter estimates there are 320,000 homeless people in Britain, while there are 322,386 vacant homes that have been empty for more than six months.

With the average number of people per dwelling currently at 2.4, the volume of empty homes in Britain is enough to house 773,726 people, with just 133,333 (or 41.4%) of these homes needed to provide accommodation for those without.


GetAgent also looked on a regional scale at the number of vacant homes required in each area to house those classified as rough sleepers, those classified as homeless and those classed as relief duty owed – and what this equates to as a percentage of the long-term vacant homes available.

The figures show it would take just two households (or 0.5%) of the 430 vacant homes in Halton, Cheshire, in order to house the homeless. It would also take 0.6% of vacant housing in Torbay and less than 10% in Stevenage, Rutland, Eden, South Staffordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Bolsover.

Of course, while some areas could provide housing with vacant properties to spare, this isn’t the case everywhere in Britain.

In Crawley, for example, the number of rough sleepers and those classed as homeless and relief duty owed would need 414 properties in order to house them, while there is just 30 identified as vacant on a long-term basis.

In Corby, 132 properties would be required against the 12 homes actually marked as long-term vacant, with Solihull, Westminster and Brent also amongst some of the areas with the highest proportion of homeless to vacant property available.

“We know that the number of people living on the streets of Britain is far higher than the current estimates and it’s impossible to tell just how many people are homeless and in need of housing,” Colby Short, founder and chief executive officer of GetAgent, comments.

“But even with these conservative estimates, many areas of Britain would require just a small percentage of the many empty homes available to make a difference when it comes to providing housing for the less fortunate.”

He says, though, that some areas would need far more empty homes to address the issue and even then, it isn’t as clear cut as providing empty housing to those without any at all.

“However, we wanted to highlight that at this time of year in particular, there are plenty of empty properties sitting vacant that could be utilised to help those in need,” Short concludes.

  • English Landlord

    Could Britain’s empty homes accommodate the homeless? Yes, it would make sense. I have a void right now and if the Government was willing to pay me rent as well as vouch that any damage to my property would be put right at their expense and that the Homeless persons could be removed at short notice then I would agree.

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    I have been saying for some time that if Govt. created the environment for the existing 2 million landlords to bring back/into use just one additional previously empty/derelict/commercial property each (the reality being some wouldn’t bother and others would do multiple), the country would benefit to the tune of 2 million additional homes virtually overnight (perhaps 6-12 weeks), but the point is it would be far faster, wider ranging and bigger than any new build project. This could all be done by, say, giving the landlords a CGT break on any of these properties (which might also have the added bonus of encouraging them to sell, many of whom would be FTBs). If they really wanted, they could stipulate energy rating minimums or affordable rents for a period. I dunno, get creative!

    The problem is they either haven’t the brains to think of this or they cannot bring themselves to be seen to be benefitting LLs (even if it vastly aids the nations housing problem)…

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    I have eight empty properties which are suitable for single homeless people but the government has made it too difficult to let to shch individuals, they are high risk but HMG wants a cut price with no guarantee of payment. Do they take landlords for mugs?

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    The government has made it extremely difficult to rent out my eight unoccupied properties, which would be great for individuals experiencing homelessness. However, HMG is demanding a low fee without any assurance of payment, and I am concerned about the safety of these individuals.


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