Following a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, Bristol City Council has revealed there are currently 30 council owned properties which have been empty for more than six months. The council property which has been empty the longest has been unoccupied for 1166 days.
The property, which has been left empty for more than three years, is currently undergoing structural repairs but no information has been given as to why the other 29 properties have been left vacant for more than 6 months. The ward with the highest number of empty council properties is Hartcliffe and Withywood.
There are currently nearly 18,000 households on the housing list and over 1,100 in temporary accommodation in Bristol. Neighbours have complained about empty council homes on their streets and said the council should be doing more to put empty homes back into use. Bristol Live contacted Bristol City Council for a comment.
However, the majority of empty properties in Bristol are privately owned. Data from Action on Empty homes revealed in 2021 Bristol had over 1,000 privately owned properties which had been empty for more than six months with 300 of them being vacant for over two years.
The number of empty properties in Bristol increased by 54 from the previous year and a larger increase was seen in second home ownership, in line with the current national trend. Taking into account second home ownership and empty council homes, the total stands at approximately 3,765 empty homes across Bristol.
One council property in Greenbank which is not included in the latest figures was left empty for two years before being used to house a family following a neighbour’s complaint to the council. The local resident who had noticed the property had been empty since the start of the pandemic was horrified when he discovered it was owned by the council, given the current demand for social housing.
He believed that it had been forgotten about and it was only put back into use because of his complaint. He said at the time, “why are these houses being left to rot? The house looks alright from the outside, it isn’t in such a poor state of disrepair.
“Leaving it empty for that period of time is not going to make issues of disrepair any better. We really need to look after what we’ve paid for and look after the people who really need the help and there’s a lot of them out there.”
A council spokesperson told Bristol Live back in April the property had been leased to a registered provider in 2019 and Covid had caused delays in putting the property back into use.
Similar complaints were made regarding an empty two-bedroom council house in Totterdown which they said had been left empty for at least a year. Neighbours told Bristol Live in July that they had seen scaffolding go up but believe that a year is too long for repairs especially given the rising number of people on the housing waiting list.
The council said that, as of December 2021, it took them 77 days on average to re-let empty council homes requiring extensive major works. It said that last year the council re-let 1,081 homes, despite the challenges around people moving house during the pandemic.