1.8 million wait for houses

One million homes are expected to be empty in the UK this year, despite 1.8 million Britons being on the waiting list for social housing. In 2015, there were more empty properties in the north-west of England than anywhere else in the country, with 129,073 houses lying vacant, says the charity the Empty Homes Agency. It is not illegal to leave a property empty, but the government has various ways to discourage it. Where the owner ignores calls to put the property to use, a local authority can make a compulsory purchase order under Housing Act powers. This means it will buy the property at the market rate and sell it on again or convert it into social housing. At the same time, however, the law encourages the practice of leaving properties empty by offering a council tax exemption on any dwellings that are vacant for up to six months.