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More than 400 Lambeth council properties empty as 36,000 people wait for housing – South London News

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By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Hundreds of council homes have been empty for more than six months in a South London borough – despite over 36,000 people waiting for a place to live.

A Freedom of Information request revealed 173 properties owned by Lambeth council have been without tenants for half a year or more.

Lambeth has more than 36,000 people on its housing waiting list. It takes on average six and a half years to secure a council property in the borough.

There are 421 council homes owned by Lambeth council currently sitting empty.

A total of 56 of these have been vacant for more than two years, while 33 have been without tenants for more than a year.

The majority of empty flats – 358 – have ongoing repairs, 44 are due to be demolished or regenerated and 19 are ready to be let out.

Of the 377 properties being repaired or ready to let out, only 45 flats are presently under offer.

Councillor Pete Elliott, Green member for Gipsy Hill, said it was unacceptable for so many council properties to be empty in the borough when 3,000 families across Lambeth were in temporary accommodation.

He said: “You expect a small number of voids as people move out and homes are needed for short term lets when major works are carried out, but the full number of empty homes we have in Lambeth is not justified.

“Lambeth has around 3,000 families in its temporary accommodation, including over 4,000 children who are having their health damaged in what is usually very poor, overcrowded and expensive temporary housing.

“To have so many homes sitting empty is obscene. On the Central Hill Estate alone, there are dozens of homes that the council owns that are empty, some of which have been empty for over four years.”

A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “Lambeth has more than 33,000 council homes and our priority is ensuring all of these are safe and well-maintained for all our tenants.

“Despite unprecedented cuts in funding from central government over recent years, we have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in improving our council homes and estates, in line with the Lambeth Housing Standard.

“Once a resident has left a property, we will not rent it to a new tenant until it is in a lettable condition. This can take some time, depending on the condition the home has been left in.

“The properties are being repaired for reletting but some include those with major works such as roof leaks and/or structural defects. Contractors are working towards clearing their backlog of voids by [the] end of the financial year.”

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