A freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme has revealed that the number of empty homes in Reading has increased by more than 400 in the last year, bringing the total number to 2,113.

This is up 23%, from 1,711 in 2019.

There was an increase in the number of homes empty for longer than six months, from 571 to 612.

Incredibly, it was revealed in March 2020 that one property has been empty for more than 23 years – and still is.

Reading Borough Council announced a new empty homes strategy last year, designed to improve affected neighbourhoods, maximise the usage of existing homes and support owners with their empty properties. 

However, the council’s empty homes officer Nick Pritchard-Gordon, said the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things, has slowed down its progress.

Currently, 115 new homes were completed more than a year ago but have struggled to sell or be let, the impact of a sluggish housing market in 2020.

There are also 37 council-owned long-term empty homes as part of regeneration or refurbishment schemes.

14 homes are registered as long-term empty for longer than two years, connected with difficulties with selling retirement leasehold properties that form part of a deceased person’s estate.

Mr Prithcard also said that the council does not focus on empty homes that form part of an estate unless the property is causing a direct problem to the neighbourhood.

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