How UK’s 200,000 empty homes could ease housing shortage


Converting the UK’s thousands of empty homes is no mean feat, but with government support, could it help to solve the ongoing housing supply issues?

Propertymark, which is a leading trade body for property agents and others involved in the housing industry, has once again called for action on the country’s empty homes.

Last week, the body wrote to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It demanded that the government step up its plans to alleviate the housing crisis, which is affecting the private rented sector in particular, as well as buyers.

While the government distributed £100m through its Empty Homes Programme previously, this closed in 2015. As well as reigniting a programme to bring properties back to life, Propertymark has called for incentives such as scrapping VAT on energy efficiency improvements.

It also suggests either discounting or exempting buyers from paying council tax and stamp duty in a bid to encourage them to purchase and use empty properties.

What’s the issue?

Properymark puts it simply: “Leaving homes empty is a waste.” It is also something the government cannot afford to do when it currently needs 300,000 additional homes a year; a target which is yet to be met.

The industry body cites recent government data showing there are an estimated 238,306 properties that have been sitting empty for more than six months. In total, though, the number of vacant properties stands at more than 600,000 across the country.

Propertymark states: “In a bid to tackle supply issues in the industry, Propertymark has renewed its call for the UK government to restart the Empty Homes Community Grant Programme.

“We urge Ministers to consider a scheme like the one in the recent Levelling Up White Paper, to ensure avenues available for people and local authorities to buy, lease and refurbish empty homes to also provide affordable housing.”

Ripe for conversion

Another avenue that Propertymark believes is an important one to explore is commercial to residential conversions. There are numerous large, empty commercial premises, and these could “play a valuable role in providing more housing options”.

BuyAssociation, which helps investors find property investment opportunities across the UK direct with developers, has been involved in a number of projects which involved conversions. These give the buyer the benefit of brand-new homes within characterful, ideally located buildings.

To find out more about what we do and the opportunities available, see some of our selected projects, or get in touch for more information.

Empty homes ‘makes no sense’

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for Propertymark, sys: “Empty homes are a wasted resource and at a time when the housing market is in the grip of unsustainably low levels of stock for sale and for rent, it makes no sense that there are thousands of homes sitting vacant.

“We have long called for the reintroduction of a national programme of funding because of the much-needed incentive that it can provide to get these properties back into the market for would-be home buyers or landlords.”

He added: “The UK government has set itself a target of building 300,000 new houses a year, but it must not miss opportunities to do more to better manage the growing level of existing housing stock that is currently being underused, or not used at all.”

A regional issue

A report released last year by GoodMove revealed how the number of empty homes varies greatly across the country. It also found that 68% of Brits agree these properties should be used to meet the government’s housebuilding targets.

In England, the north-west and Yorkshire and Humber have the highest number of empty dwellings, with 67,000 between them, says GoodMove. In the south-east, there are more than 27,000 empty homes, while in London there are more than 22,000.

Nima Ghasri, chartered surveyor and director at GoodMove, said: “It’s really interesting to see the number of empty houses in the UK, and that the vast majority of them are also situated in England.

“Empty dwellings vary from an abandoned house to a completely derelict building and of course not all of them are safe to be lived in, or even economically viable to be renovated into liveable properties.

“But with nearly seven in 10 Brits believing these empty houses could be used to accommodate homeless people in the UK, it raises a very important and interesting issue.”

Highgrove Mews

High Net Yield Freehold Houses

  • Commutable to London (27 mins to central Paddington station)
  • Rental demand extremely strong with large industry presence in Reading
  • Freehold with 4% net yield

£284,955 - £457,000

St Petersgate – Stockport Manchester

New Launch - Stockport Manchester, apartments from £160,000

  • Discounted launch prices from £160,000
  • Excellent transport links with 3 trains per hour to London Euston and only 9 mins journey to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Experienced development team

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

  • Assured rent & no rental voids
  • Tenant damage cover & newly refurbished inline with requirements of a corporate sitting tenant
  • Free property and lettings management

From £62,000

Emerging Birmingham Commuter Town With Properties From Just £104,000

The emerging Birmingham commuter town where properties are selling in an average of just 24 days

  • A collection of 62 two bedroom apartments and 28 one bedroom apartments.
  • DE14 is one of the fastest selling postcodes in the West Midlands.
  • 23 minute train journey into Birmingham New Street Station.

Properties from £104,000

Mill, Stockport

The Northwest's emerging property hotspot

  • Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000
  • Completion date - Q4 2021
  • Rental yields - 6% plus

Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000

South Central – Birmingham City Centre Apartments

Highly anticipated 28 storey launch in Birmingham City Centre with an impressive roof garden and communal facilities.

  • 154 units across 28 storeys
  • Residential multi-media community room, gym, roof garden and sky cinema
  • Excellent future connectivity via the metro system to other key transport hubs and locations around the city

from £205,800


Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today: 

+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT

+852 9865 4446

Open from 9am-6pm HKT

Stamp Duty Calculator


Unlock members only investment opportunities and full development details. Join now – it’s free, quick and easy.


Not a member? Sign up for free

empty homes derelict

How UK’s 200,000 empty homes could ease housing shortage


By submitting your details via this online form you agree to be contacted via email/phone/SMS by Direct Marketplace Ltd t/a BuyAssociation in relation to property investment and property developments . We do not share your personal details with third parties.  To view our full Privacy Policy click here.