‘Shocking’ number of empty properties in Hackney
PUBLISHED: 18:17 17 January 2013 | UPDATED: 18:18 17 January 2013
While the number of families waiting for somewhere suitable to live continues to grow, thousands of council homes in Hackney lie vacant.
In Hackney, nearly 2,300 properties are empty – and almost a massive 50 per cent – 1,044, are publicly owned – the highest percentage in the capital.
Of these 1,149 have been empty long-term – defined as longer than six months.
Around 23,000 people languish on the waiting list, more than 11.5 per cent of the borough’s population.
David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency, says these figures could be the tip of the iceberg. He said: “These figures are shocking, but even they are an under-count because local authorities sub-divide properties and report them in different ways.
“Once they cut gas or water off they often don’t count them as a home any more.
“These are real, empty properties. No one has made them up and if things were managed differently people would be living in them.
“If properties are empty year after year, it’s really not acceptable. I don’t know the reason why the figures in Hackney are so high – it might be estate regeneration projects – but if it’s not then it’s a big problem. Something has gone badly wrong.”
He added that big estate redevelopments often get delayed and councils should press the empty homes into temporary service.
A spokesman for Hackney Council said: “Forty four per cent of all homes are council and housing association owned, so vacant ones will always form a significant proportion of all properties vacant in the borough.
“A large number of estates are undergoing improvement as part of our regeneration programme. This means around two-thirds of council vacant properties are due to be demolished. However, where there is scope to do so we let these temporarily. We usually fill vacant homes that can be let on secure tenancies within four weeks.”
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