As empty homes numbers shoot up in the capital, our 'Nobody's Home' report calls for housing development in London to meet local needs not investors’ priorities.

The new report draws on new data, discussion with impacted local communities and interviews with policy-makers wrestling with a housing crisis that has national impact[i].

Key findings:

  • London is building the wrong housing to resolve the housing crisis.
  • Homelessness is rising at the same time as empty homes numbers shoot up and more second homes and Airbnb-ready flats are built in the capital.
  • A wide range of voices are saying it is time to stop building yet more empty homes.
  • The climate crisis shows us why we need to retrofit not demolish council estates and take a ‘RetroFirst’ approach to development, including retrofitting long-term housing stock for a more sustainable future.

Report sets out an agenda for change which challenges both current development models and the Government’s proposed planning reforms[ii].

Director of Action on Empty Homes[iii] Will McMahon said,

Year after year, London builds more of the wrong housing, houses fewer of those in acute need and increases homelessness. With at least 100,000 homes with no permanent resident it’s time for action. That means getting to grips with the 30,000 long term empty homes in the capital, controls on Airbnb, and support for local communities that want the low-cost homes Londoners need, not more of the ones they can’t afford or never even get a chance to rent.”

Chief Executive of Trust for London, Manny Hothi[iv], said

“Over 60,000 London families are living in Temporary Accommodation, often out of Borough and away from relatives and long-standing community networks. This jars when communities can see hundreds of new homes being built on their doorstep. New homes need to be just that: homes for people to live in. By bringing vacant and under-used property back into use, and making it more costly to leave new homes empty, we can help house all Londoners and tackle the housing crisis.”

For more information contact:  Chris Bailey, Campaigns Manager  [email protected]


[i] London councils are responsible for 60% of the nation’s homeless and over two thirds of the billion pound annual cost of temporary accommodation for those worst hit by the housing crisis.


[ii] Main recommendations of the ‘Nobody’s Home’ report are:

The adoption of more robust strategies by London boroughs to challenge emptiness of all types

The introduction of a RetroFirst approach and return of empty homes to residential use, as crucial initiatives in addressing the climate emergency

Tighter regulation of Airbnb and full data sharing with borough enforcement teams

A Vacancy Tax based on the Vancouver model

The reform or abolition of the second homes category which shelters over 50,000 empty London homes from tax premiums and enforcement measures.

A transparent national register of residential property ownership and usage

A new Government-funded Empty Homes Programme of support for enforcement, incentives and investment at a local level to bring empty homes into use.

The harmonisation of local and national planning – local planning should be informed, not undermined, by its national counterpart, current Government proposals threaten to disempower communities and offer developers carte blanche to build more of the wrong housing and create empty homes and Airbnbs instead of the homes local communities need.


[iii] Action on Empty Homes (AEH) is a national campaigning charity previously known as The Empty Homes Agency and provides the only independent analysis of official data on empty homes.

You can view or download all our publications here:

For detailed figures for each council area see:


[iv] The ‘Nobody’s Home’ Report is based on work funded by Trust for London:

Trust for London is an independent charitable foundation.

Trust for London aim to tackle poverty and inequality in London and do this by: funding voluntary and charity groups – currently grants total around £10 million a year and at any one time Trust for London are supporting up to 300 organisations; funding independent research; and providing knowledge and expertise on London’s social issues to policymakers and journalists.