Opposition councillors speak out on Camden’s level of vacant homes

Camden Town Hall.

Councillors from Camden’s Liberal Democrat group have spoken out over “imbalances” in the level of vacant homes in the borough. 

Camden has the third highest number of empty homes in London, according to research released in June by Admiral Insurance – 1,210, with Southwark coming in highest with 1,766. 

Proportionally, Camden has the fourth highest level of vacancies in London, with 11.6 in 1,000 homes sitting empty. 

Cllr Luisa Porritt MEP (Lib Dem, Belsize) said:  “While the precise number of empty homes is disputed by the council, if this figure is correct it would be enough to house the almost 500 families and 643 individuals (total 1,143) in the borough living in temporary accommodation and hostels. 

“Back in March, I said that Camden Council must redouble its efforts and use all its powers to bring empty homes back into use. 

“Four months on, it remains the case that we must see rapid progress to help address the imbalances in the local housing market, especially in the absence of a focus by central government on this issue.” 

Camden Council have marginally disputed the statistics, accepting that at the end of May there were 1,092 properties in the borough that had been empty for over six months. 

The Town Hall has also pointed out that Camden is home to high value properties owned by wealthy individuals or companies, who are not bound to occupy or rent out homes if they choose not to. 

According to local government housing statistics, Camden has 890 vacancies directly owned by the council. 

The Town Hall puts the level of vacancies down to the council having a number of developments in different stages of completion, as well as market failure causing a sales slump and leaving over 160 new builds empty, as well as over 100 properties empty due to refurbishment or renovation. 

All local authorities in England have the power to charge dwellings that have been empty for at least two years an extra 50 per cent on their council tax bill since 2018, with powers introduced in April allowing an increase of 100 per cent. 

While Camden have made no compulsory purchase orders due to vacancy in the last calendar year, 1,061 vacant dwellings have had their rates raised by 50 per cent, with 329 by 100 per cent. 

A council spokesperson said: “Camden actively offers advice and support where possible to work with owners to encourage them to bring their properties back into use.

“Advice can be anything from letting them know what their options are, talking with council services such as planning and leasehold to provide information about lettings and grants or leasing to housing co-operatives and housing associations.

“As a last resort the council will take enforcement action if no progress is made.

“In some cases properties remain empty for extended periods of time due to delays caused by reasons such as planning permissions and connection of utilities services.”

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