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Over 86,000 Houses in East Midlands Remain Unoccupied

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Despite high levels of homelessness across the UK, the percentage of unoccupied homes in East Midlands is remarkably high.

In order to find out more about the number of unoccupied households within East Midlands, we have utilised both the 2021 Census data and ONS data on dwellings in the UK. By looking at these data sources side by side, we are able to see the number of households in an area and how many of those have at least one usual resident or are left unoccupied.

We have taken the time to analyse areas like Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire within East Midlands, in comparison to the rest of the UK. What we observed was a shocking number of unoccupied dwellings across the East Midlands region.

In the following review, we will look at these figures in more detail, including which areas have the highest and lowest rates of unoccupancy, and the reasons why.

Percentage of Unoccupied homes in East Midlands

Within East Midlands, there are 10 counties each with a number of Local Authorities. Within these counties, there are various populations sizes and unoccupied dwellings. The percentage of unoccupied homes in these counties are…

  • Nottingham – 11%
  • Leicester – 8%
  • Rutland – 6%
  • Derby – 5%
  • Derbyshire – 4%
  • Lincolnshire – 3%
  • Nottinghamshire – 3%
  • Leicestershire – 3%
  • North Northamptonshire – 2%
  • West Northamptonshire – 1%

As you can see, Nottingham has the highest percentage of unoccupied dwellings in East Midlands, at 11%. In total, Nottingham has 124,800 households with at least one regular resident. However, the number of dwellings within Nottingham is 140,477, leaving a huge 15,677 properties unoccupied.

Counties like Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, however, have a much smaller percentage of unoccupied dwellings. They each only have 3% figure for unoccupied homes. Despite this number being a lot smaller than Nottingham, when broken down you can see just how many unoccupied properties there still are within these areas.

Lincolnshire, for example, has a total of 345,339 properties, 11,839 of which are unoccupied. In Nottingham, we can sees similar statistics, with total dwellings in 2022 reaching 368,603, with 11,403 unoccupied.

The county with the lowest number of unoccupied dwellings in East Midlands is West Northamptonshire. This area has 172,600 households with at least one usual resident, and a further 2,579 unoccupied properties.

Unoccupied Homes within East Midlands Local Authorities

In order to identify reasons for the number of unoccupied homes in an area, it is important to consider the Local Authorities (LA).

Lincolnshire has seven LAs, each with differing percentages of unoccupied homes. East Lindsey, for instance, has the largest number of dwellings, with 68,580 properties in the area, 6% of which are unoccupied.

In comparison, South Kesteven has the second largest number of properties, with 64,480 in total, yet only a 3% rate of unoccupancy. This is lower than much smaller areas in the county, including Boston with 30,461 dwellings and 3% unoccupancy, as well as Lincoln with a total 44,729 properties and 5% of unoccupied properties.

It’s also interesting to note that, despite being the third largest LA in Lincolnshire, North Kesteven still has one of the lowest numbers of unoccupied properties. With a total 52,113 dwellings in the area, and only 2% or 1,113 properties unoccupied.

This pattern can also be seen across other LAs in East Midlands. For example, in Derbyshire, the LA with the smallest number of dwellings, Derbyshire Dales with 35,576, has the largest percentage of unoccupied properties by far of 9%.

It can also be seen in Nottinghamshire where Broxtowe, which has the second fewest number of properties in the area with 50,204, again had one of the highest percentage of unoccupied dwellings, at 4%.

Percentage of Unoccupied Dwellings Across Local Authorities in England

To get a sense of how the East Midlands region compares to other areas, we’ve also taken a look at the percentage of unoccupied homes across England as a whole. The percentage of unoccupied properties can vary dramatically. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Local Authority with the largest percentage of unoccupied dwellings within the country is the City of London.

In the latest data, this area had 7,099 dwellings with 2,199 of these being unoccupied. That means that, in the City of London LA, there is an unoccupancy rate of 31%; by far the largest in all of England. The second highest was Westminster, with a 1 in 4 unoccupancy rate.

In comparison, it’s important to also look at areas that are only 1% unoccupied, like Hounslow and North East Derbyshire.

Take a look at this selection of Local Authorities across England with the highest percentage of unoccupied dwellings and the lowest…

Highest percentages of unoccupied dwellings in Local Authorities within England

  • City of London 31%
  • Westminster – 25%
  • Kensington and Chelsea – 24%
  • South Hams – 15%
  • North Norfolk – 15%
  • South Lakeland – 15%

Lowest percentages of unoccupied dwellings in Local Authorities within England

  • Hounslow – 1%
  • North East Derbyshire – 1%
  • Harborough - 1%
  • Wokingham - 1%
  • Basingstoke and Deane - 1%
  • Peterborough - 1%

Possible Reasons for East Midland’s Unoccupied Percentages

In total, there are 86,263 unoccupied dwellings in East Midlands. If you consider that this is only one county in England, the overall number of unoccupied properties throughout the whole country is very large.

But why is that the case and why do some areas have more unoccupied properties than others?

We have already established that the size of the area and total number of dwellings do not directly correlate to the number unoccupied. This can be seen in areas like the City of London where the number of properties is incredibly low compared to the percent of unoccupied dwellings.

By considering an area like Lincolnshire, it could be suggested that areas with a higher number of properties owned outright or owned with a mortgage/loan have more unoccupied properties than areas that are predominantly renters.

For example, East Lindsey has 64,800 properties in total with 6% of those unoccupied, the largest in Lincolnshire. Out of the occupied properties in this area, a massive 47,113 are owned, 31,753 of which are owned outright.

In comparison, there are only 21,467 rented properties in East Lindsey. This suggests that this LA is perhaps a more affluent area, with the majority of residents able to own their own properties. This could be making the properties in this area more expensive, increasing the number of unoccupied dwellings.

It must also be noted that the current house prices have increased by 12.4% across England in 2022. This is 9.7% higher than the previous year, and will have a knock-on effect regarding the percentage of unoccupied houses and homelessness throughout the UK.

This is because people simply cannot afford to get onto the property ladder, leaving more valuable properties to be left uninhabited. What’s more, those who can afford a home are more likely to be able to afford a second home, leaving homes in the hands of people who may not necessarily need them.

In 2020, The Homelessness Monitor estimated that 203,400 people were experiencing core homelessness in England. However, since the economic devastation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, this, alongside rough sleeping, is on the rise. These statistics are particularly devastating when you consider that there are enough properties in England to house everyone.

Data Sources

Methodology

Throughout this article, we have been using data taken from the Office for National Statistics and the 2021 Census.

In order to calculate the percentage of unoccupied dwellings across England, we found the difference between the number of households with at least one usual resident and the total number of properties in an area, and divided the difference by the number of dwellings.

By doing so, we were able to see the percentage of unoccupied homes in both the county and individual Local Authorities.

Please note that the dwelling data provided by the ONS, which tells us the total dwellings owned and rented, is subject to a level of variability; these figures are merely an estimate.

Although this data was sourced via reputable sources, its interpretations are that of the Chattertons researchers.

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