Can empty homes help reduce housing waiting lists?

GMB London (the General, Municipal, Boilermakers trade union) has called for local authorities in London to be given powers to use vacant properties left empty for prolonged periods to be used to house people on ‘unacceptably high’ housing waiting lists. A study by GMB London showed that in 2018 London had 22,481 vacant properties and 232,409 households on local authority waiting lists. Although the only solution to the housing crisis is to increase the supply of council housing, utilising these empty properties is not something that should be discounted.

Vancouver (Canada) introduced an empty homes tax in 2017 to relieve pressure on their rental housing market.

Warren Kenny, GMB Regional Secretary said “Property owners knowing that councils had such powers would be a big incentive for these owners to keep properties occupied. It would also reduce the incentive for overseas investors investing in buy to leave empty to do so.”

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