The number of empty properties in London has dropped by half over the past decade, according to analysis of recent Government figures by insurance broker Towergate.
Over the last ten years, London has recorded a dramatic decline in the amount of empty properties left vacant for more than six months.
The findings show that between 2006-16, the number of empty properties in the capital that were unoccupied for at least six months has fallen by 51%.
However, despite this long-term trend, the London Borough of Harrow has seen the number of empty properties increase by a huge 554% – from 97 in 2015 to 651 in 2016.
Four other London boroughs – Lewisham, Kensington and Chelsea, Haringey, and Camden – also recorded growth in the number of empty properties since 2006.
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Jo Thoy, on behalf of Towergate, warns: “Despite an encouraging fall in empty homes over the past decade, our capital still has a high number of homes left vacant for most of the year. This remains a concern in face of ever-rising house prices and a continuing squeeze on supply preventing many getting on the property ladder.
“There are many reasons a property may be left unoccupied for long periods of time, for example, renovation works, overseas owners, inheritance or a gap between tenancies. Whatever the reason, it is critical homeowners are aware that homes left empty for an extended period of time can leave them exposed to a number of risks and threats, including burglary, theft, vandalism and water damage.”
She urges: “If your property is going to be left vacant for a longer period, it’s crucial you check your insurance policy and contact your insurer to get specialist cover in place – standard policies are often only valid for up to a month.”
Towergate is advising property owners to take preventative measures when leaving a home empty:
- Make sure the property is regularly inspected, either by yourself or a family member/friend.
- Ensure the property is secured at all entry points using sufficient locks.
- Make the property look occupied to minimise interest from thieves or vandals.
- Cancel existing deliveries, such as milk or newspapers, and have any post collected, as this is a fire risk.
- Consider putting lights on timers so that they come on in the evenings, and perhaps park a car on the drive – a friend’s or neighbour’s.
- Take out specialist Unoccupied Property Insurance to make sure your investment is safe.