Development Finance Today – Councils Not Seizing Empty Homes


Attempts by councils to seize empty homes are at record lows across England, according to new research from James Pendleton.

The estate agency has claimed that there were just nine seizure applications for long-term vacant homes in England in 2016.

Long-term vacant properties are those which have been empty for at least six months and councils have the power to apply to seize those that have sat empty for two years under legislation which took effect in 2006.

However, James Pendleton found that in 2016 the number of seizure application was lower than at any point since the year the powers were introduced.

“This is a disgraceful waste of powers given to councils to help solve the housing crisis,” said Lucy Pendleton, founder director of James Pendleton.

The minimal use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) since then comes despite 137 being granted, compared with 208 applications in total.

The number of applications countrywide peaked at 41 in 2012, but has slid to an average of less than 20 a year since then.

“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,” Lucy added.

Councils in the North of England made the most applications, while the Midlands performed the worst with not a single application being made in the region since 2012.

Council seizures in London fell to zero in 2016, despite James Pendleton claiming that thousands of homes had been sitting empty for more than six months over the year.

Only seven of the 32 London boroughs have made any applications for EDMOs at all in 11 years.

“The figures are extremely worrying for England,” said Lucy.

“It’s even more disturbing to find that applications have dropped to zero in London, where the high cost of living and severe, longstanding imbalance between supply and demand makes use of these powers even more urgent.”