By Legal Futures’ Associate Search Acumen 
Monday 23rd September saw the start of National Empty Homes Week. The Empty Homes Week was founded by Action on Empty Homes  to highlight Britain’s underused or completely unused housing stock and to encourage action on how it can serve those with housing needs.
Action on Empty Homes estimate that nationally there are over 216,000 thousand long-term empty houses – enough to house nearly 1 million people . But that is only houses that have been empty for more than six months The Ministry of Housing Community and Local Government (MHCLG) estimates there were over 630,000 empty homes in October 2018, a 4.7% increase on the previous year.
Local Authorities are one of the nation’s most notable owners of housing stock, with an estimated 1.59 million homes under management of councils in England as of 1st April 2018.
Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen, comments:
“As Action on Empty Homes’ National Empty Homes Week highlights, there are 216,000 houses which have not been occupied for at least six months. The reason why so many stand empty is multifaceted, but the key factor is just how drawn out and convoluted the property selling process can be – in 2018, almost one in five complaints about law firms were due to delays in the completion of conveyancing services. For those dealing with complex personal and legal issues, such as bereavements, managing elderly care and legal disputes, the selling process becomes even more time consuming and inefficient, leaving precious properties in limbo and empty.
“But there are inefficiencies at a wider level too. Local Authorities play an integral role in helping house families in need. Unfortunately, there are 45,632 local authority houses that are empty and Search Acumen estimates there could be more that are unaccounted for.
On both the personal homebuying level and governmental housing management level, digital technology can help use resources more efficiently: whether that’s improving the transaction process or better managing large property portfolios. With enough imagination and compassion, and common-sense use of the latest in data tech, we can help everyone get the home they want and make the most of what we already have.”