How many empty properties in Cornwall?

The council have moved today to reassure the public in Cornwall about the supposed numbers of empty properties currently in Cornwall.

There have been stories in the media recently reporting that there are huge numbers of empty properties in Cornwall – the council are insisting this is not the case.

The standard method that the Council uses to calculate the number of properties that have been empty for six months or longer is through council tax records.

Using that methodology, in September 2017 there were 3,163 properties (approx. 1.4% of all households in Cornwall) classified as being long term empty.

The Council statement reads

“The stories in the local media have taken their figures from an external report which uses census data from 2011.

The report being quoted talks about ‘vacant dwellings’ but the data is in fact 2011 census data relating to ‘household space with no usual residents’. A household space being the accommodation used or available for use by an individual household.

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The definition of household spaces ‘with no usual residents’ includes holiday homes or apartments, those household spaces empty because of sale/transfer and properties containing short-term residents only who are not classified as usual residents. So in simple terms it’s available accommodation that is not being used on a permanent basis, this incorporates a far greater range and number of properties than simply long term empty properties.

The Council works with the owners of long term empty properties to return them to use as soon as possible. A Cornwall Council scheme has loaned more than £2 million to property owners to bring over 100 formerly empty homes back into use over the past 4 years”

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It comes on a day a new government health report claims that 4,000 people on the social housing waiting list in Cornwall are  currently in poor, over-crowded or unsuitable housing.

Andrew Mitchell
Cllr Mitchell

When we spoke to him this morning Andrew Mitchell Council Portfolio Holder for Housing highlighted an alarming statistic given at an All Members Briefing to councillors eight months ago that up to 60% of private rented property in Cornwall is below acceptable healthy standards.

Cllr Mitchell insisted the council were working with private landlords to improve housing stock but that there was a long way to go.

There are approximately 20,000 people on the council’s social housing waiting list altogether.