Croydon housing issues highlighted with thousands of properties empty
Thousands of homes are lying empty and unused at the same time as homeless families are being moved out of the borough.
A review into housing across London has revealed more than 3,500 homes are currently unoccupied in Croydon, despite soaring population rises recorded during the past decade.
Last month the council admitted it could not cope with demand for social housing, with more than 400 families in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation, and was looking to send its homeless to properties outside London.
A review from union GMB last week revealed of the 150,000 homes in Croydon, 3,638 or 2.4 per cent were empty, the second highest number in London.
Croydon Council has been quick to point out the number of long-term empty properties is lower, at 1,321, and these homes are owned by private landlords.
The union is calling for stronger penalties against landlords who leave their properties empty.
Paul Hayes, GMB regional Secretary, said: “That there are 74,553 empty dwellings in London at a time when there is acute pressure on the housing market signals that there are not enough penalties against leaving a property vacant.
“The system needs to be tilted in such a way that property owners face penalties if they do not take all reasonable steps to ensure that dwellings are occupied.”
New developments such as town centre highrise Altitude 25 have not seen a large take-up of occupancy since they were built.
A council spokesman said: “The council uses all the powers at its disposal to bring long-term empty private sector properties back in to use.
“In the last few years we have been successful in reducing the number of these empty properties by half, bringing 400 back into use every year.
“We do this by offering help and advice and by encouraging some owners to apply for loans and grants to ensure dwellings are brought up to standard and occupied.
“In some cases we are able to secure nomination rights to house the homeless.
“We will also take enforcement action and issue compulsory purchase orders in cases where all other avenues have been explored and the owners refuse to cooperate.”