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More private English homes 'vacant for over six months'

Fri 20 Nov 2009

More than 300,000 properties in England were vacant for longer than six months last year, according to new figures.

Research by Halifax showed that this was the first time the number of long-term empty private homes has reached that level since 2003.

The problem was found to be particularly acute in the north-west of England, where almost a quarter of these properties were located, along with Yorkshire and the Humber.

Meanwhile, London, the south-east and the south-west had the lowest proportion of empty houses overall.

Halifax noted that long-term empty private homes were highly prevalent in areas with relatively high levels of deprivation and unemployment.

The recent increase comes in the wake of several years of decline, a trend that Halifax described as concerning.

This coincides with the news that the number of housing starts in England has risen for three quarters in succession.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, this is expected to continue into next year.

However, it noted that factors such as limited access to finance would inhibit growth, even if the economy begins to pick up during this period.

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