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Empty Houses: The Answer to the UK’s Social Housing Needs

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In the UK, there is a housing crisis with 1.2 million households on waiting lists for a home. Among them are 140,000 homeless children, all in urgent need of good quality, affordable housing.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of empty houses across the country. These vacant properties could be part of the solution to the housing emergency.

How many empty homes are there in the UK?

An empty home is considered as an abandoned property, which is classed as long-term empty, unoccupied or unused. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) publishes data on homes classed as empty for Council Tax purposes.

Currently, around 261,000 homes are sitting empty across the UK, while there are approximately 309,000 homeless people in England. If these properties were brought back into use and renovated to standard, the housing issues in the UK could be transformed.

Repurposing empty homes for social rent would be a cost-effective and greener way to provide housing. Socially rented homes are the only type of housing that can guarantee affordability, and 90,000 of these homes need to be delivered each year for the next decade to end the housing emergency.

Causes of Empty Homes Across the UK

  • Personal Reasons – This includes circumstances like death, family disagreements, mental or physical health, owners moving into care homes or financing issues. 
  • Low Demand Areas – Properties in these areas can remain empty due to low land values and rent returns, making it financially unattractive for private landlords or investors to bring them back into use.
  • High Demand Areas – In areas with high land values and rents, house prices tend to increase over the years. This is often exploited by ‘buy or build to leave’ investors who treat housing purely as a financial asset rather than as home

Tackling the Housing Crisis with the 10 City Plan 

Utilising empty homes could help address the housing crisis, and Shelter’s 10-City Plan to rapidly convert empty homes into social rent homes proposes a solution. 

The plan puts forward renovating and utilising empty homes to provide 10,500 social rented homes across 10 cities over a 3-year period, with £1.25 billion in funding as well as:

  • Government support for local authorities and social landlords with resource funding
  • Funding for community organisations 
  • Exempt sellers of long-term empty homes from a proportion of Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

This could significantly boost the delivery of social rented homes in local communities and if implemented, this proposal would transform lives by providing affordable homes for those on the social housing waiting list or those stuck in substandard temporary accommodation.

The cities targeted by the 10 City Plan include Newcastle, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Greater London, the wider Bournemouth area, and Plymouth. These areas have high demand for social rent homes and a large number of empty properties that could be repurposed.

The plan outlines how bringing empty properties back into use could deliver much-needed social rent homes and reduce the number of empty residential properties. This model, used in post-war housing initiatives and more recent funding initiatives, has proven effective. The UK needs to expand socially rented housing delivery to address high levels of homelessness, and repurposing empty homes can help achieve this.

How Potential Investors Can Help  

The need for social housing in the UK is escalating, with more families living in substandard conditions, temporary housing, or privately rented properties they cannot afford. Access to a warm, habitable home is a fundamental human need. Yet, the UK needs more high-quality, low-cost homes to meet this demand. 

Despite the increasing demand and ongoing supported living challenges, this sector’s prospects remain promising for investors and those in need of affordable housing. Government initiatives and increased funding are making a positive impact, but more need to be done. This is where Yield Investing can help.  

Investing in social housing offers long-term benefits. If you’re looking for a high-yield investment, this sector provides a unique opportunity. Not only does it offer potentially strong returns, but it also contributes positively to society by providing homes for those in need.

Yield Investing work closely with a housing association within the UK who take empty properties and renovate them to the required standards that need to be met for socially rented homes. They can then be supplied to those people who need them at affordable rents, which also receive some funding help from the government. 

If you are interested in exploring investments in social housing and how they can benefit society and your portfolio, contact our property advisors today. We’ll guide you through the investment process.

Choose Property Investments with Yield Investing 

Property can be a great way to build wealth and secure your financial future, but it doesn’t come without risks. When looking for the best place to invest in property in the UK, it pays to do your research.

With Yield Investing, you can rest assured that you’re investing in properties that offer low-risk, long-term returns. With our already-completed assisted living properties, you can take advantage of the relatively stable UK economy and achieve a guaranteed rate of return.Take the guesswork out of finding the best way to invest in property worldwide, and start building your real estate portfolio by contacting us today.

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