Empty homes outnumber holiday lets in UK local authorities

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The analysis of 313 UK local authority areas showed 58% of them have more homes sitting vacant long term than holiday lets

Empty homes outnumber holiday lets in the majority of UK local authorities, shows a research from Short Term Accommodation Association and Key Data.

The analysis of 313 UK local authority areas showed 58% of them have more homes sitting vacant long term than holiday lets.

The worst affected is Arun Borough, which includes the popular seaside town of Bognor Regis with over 400 long-term empty homes in this local authority, 6.7 times more than the 66 holiday lets in the area.

Meanwhile, Wales and Scotland the numbers of empty homes dwarf the size of the holiday let market.

Welsh councils such as Caerphilly and the valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf have over five times more empty homes than holiday lets, while the Highlands in Scotland have 4.4 times as many.

The biggest difference in raw numbers was in Aberdeen, where there are 4,370 more empty homes than holiday lets — 4.6 times more.

Short Term Accommodation Association and Key Data said that these are thousands of properties that bring no value to the local community in Scotland’s third biggest city.

Both parties explained that empty homes highlight the flaw at the centre of Britain’s housing market.

An Oxford Economics report found that in 2021, the short-term let sector brought in £27.7 billion to GDP, and supported around half a million jobs.

Despite this, new measures mean that holiday lets can be subject to similar tax premiums as long-term vacant homes.

There are 330,325 long-term empty homes in England, Scotland and Wales, as per latest official figures.

STAA CEO Andy Fenner says: Holiday lets have been taking the blame for the housing crisis for a long time but this research reveals the true picture.

He said: We all need somewhere to live and we all need somewhere to work. This research shows that holiday lets are not to blame for the housing crisis, but rather the blame lies with councils allowing homes to sit idle. Holiday lets create much-needed jobs in communities up and down the country, empty homes produce nothing.

Most councils are sitting on so many long-term empty homes that they eclipse the numbers of holiday lets in their area. This is where policymakers should be looking to solve the housing crisis, not scapegoating an industry responsible for jobs and investment in areas that often have nothing else, he adds.

He says: This is rampant hypocrisy when councils across the UK are being encouraged to strangle this industry with council tax surcharges, planning requirements and licensing schemes.

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