The number of empty homes across England has risen for the second year running, analysis by modular homes provider Project Etopia shows.
The rise in empty homes represents a total of £53.6bn worth of vacant stock.
According to MHCLG figures, the number of long-term vacant properties rose 5.3% to 216,186 in 12 months to October 2018, following a 2.6% rise the previous year.
Prior to this, the number of long-term vacant properties had dropped every year since 2008.
Of all towns and cities in England, Portsmouth saw the biggest percentage rise in long-term empty homes last year, with 101.5% more properties standing empty, totalling 939.
Hartlepool saw the second biggest rise (53.8% to 726), while Eastbourne posted the third largest increase (48.4% to 518).
According to statistics, Birmingham had the highest overall number in the country with 4,283 long-term vacant homes, barely changed on the previous year and rising just 0.07%, followed by Durham with 4,130 and Bradford with 4,090.
Figures also reveal that London has also seen another rise in the number of long-term empty homes, its second increase since 2009, with the total number of long-term vacant properties in the capital growing 11.1% to 22,481 in 2018 — representing £10.7bn worth of property.
On the reports, Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia, said: “This remains a national scandal that isn’t going away, pointing to a collective failure to really get to grips with this problem.
“The stubbornly high number of empty homes is compounding the housing market’s deeply entrenched problems, with lack of supply remaining a key driver of high prices and low affordability.”
He added: “New homes are not being built fast enough and the constant spectre of abandoned properties aggravates an already tough market, particularly for first-time buyers who desperately want to claim the keys to their first property.”
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for pro-growth tax measures to bring empty homes back into use, urging the government to scrap its additional stamp duty levy on the purchase of new homes to rent where landlords invest in long term empty homes and bring them back into use within a reasonable period of time.
John Stewart, Policy Manager for the RLA, said: “The scandal of empty homes at a time when so many are finding it difficult to access accommodation is just one reason why pro-growth tax is needed.
“The government should support good landlords to do what they have always been good at – investing in property and bringing it back into long term use.”