A London agency says it’s angry that out of 200,000 homes officially classified as long term empty across the UK, just nine were subject to seizure applications in 2016.
Research by the James Pendleton agency says the nine applications for Empty Dwelling Management Orders come despite 200,145 homes being classified by the government as long-term vacant properties.
The agency singles out the council for Kensington & Chelsea - scene of the Grenfell Tower fire - for making just one application to seize a long-term empty property in 11 years despite having the highest number of empty homes in London last year, at 1,399.
The number of EDMO applications country-wide peaked at 41 in 2012 but has slid to an average of less than 20 a year since then.
Councils in the north of England have made the most applications (86) while the Midlands has performed worst with only 10 in 11 years. There has not been a single application across the whole region since 2012.
Council seizures of empty homes in the capital fell to zero in 2016 despite latest figures showing 19,845 homes sitting empty for more than six months over the year, and only seven of the 32 London boroughs have made any applications for EDMOs at all in 11 years. Those councils were Lewisham, Bromley, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Havering and Barking & Dagenham.
“This is a disgraceful waste of powers given to councils to help solve the housing crisis. EDMOs should be seen as a crucial tool in a country where so many families and first-time buyers are struggling to get on the housing ladder or move to suitable accommodation” says Lucy Pendleton, founder director of James Pendleton.
“It’s even more disturbing to find that applications have dropped to zero in London, where the high cost of living and severe, long-standing imbalance between supply and demand makes use of these powers even more urgent” she adds.