Property Market

Shocking Revelation: 1,636 Chelmsford Properties Remain Empty

Leaving 866 People on the Council House Waiting List in Despair

There aren’t enough homes in Chelmsford.

The answer is clearly to build more property in Chelmsford – but that, unfortunately for those badly seeking to buy or rent a home in Chelmsford, takes a lot of time and massive amounts of money. So, what other solutions are there?

Talking to a Chelmsford client of mine recently, the subject of the housing crisis was mentioned. They suggested that all the empty properties in Chelmsford could be the solution to this problem. On the face of it, it seems so obvious. Now quite interestingly, I had recently done some research on this topic, which I want to share with you (as I did with them).

The most recent set of figures from 2022 state there are 1,636 empty homes in the Chelmsford Council area.

So it begs the question, why not put these homes back into the housing system and help ease the Chelmsford housing crisis?

Whilst they stand empty, 866 Chelmsford families are on the Council House Waiting List for council houses.

Nationally, the picture is very similar with 1,206,376 families on council house waiting lists with 676,304 homes empty.


Surely, we can all agree that property left empty for many years isn’t morally right?

… yet a different story emerges when you look deeper into the numbers.

Every October on one specific day, each local authority must report every property that is empty, even if it’s only been so for a week.

So many of these Chelmsford properties are either awaiting new homeowners or, in the case of rental properties, new tenants. Also most certainly, some properties are being refurbished and renovated, some are deceased estates, while other properties have homeowners that have moved out and are in the process of being sold (e.g., a part exchange property).

Of those 1,636 Chelmsford homes lying empty, only 501 properties were empty for more than six months.

… and this is where it gets even more interesting.

Many people cite all the empty council houses, yet …

Of the 501 long-term vacant Chelmsford properties (those empty more than six months), only 14 belong to the council.

The fact is that the number of genuinely long-term empty properties is only a tiny drop in the ocean of the 75,401 properties in the area covered by Chelmsford City Council and, even if every one of those empty homes were filled with tenants tomorrow, it would only meet a small fraction of Chelmsford’s housing needs.

So, what does this mean for all the homeowners and landlords of Chelmsford?

This scarcity of available homes contributes to the maintenance of high rents, which presents a favourable situation for Chelmsford landlords who are investing in buy-to-let properties.

Simultaneously, it also serves to keep Chelmsford house prices at a relatively elevated level.

The implications of this situation are particularly evident in the context of Chelmsford’s rental market, where the demand for properties is exceptionally high.

Due to the challenges faced by young individuals in affording homeownership and the financial constraints limiting the construction of new council houses by local authorities, the growth of the rental market becomes an undeniable reality.

Consequently, landlords predominantly focus their investments on the lower end of the housing market, such as starter homes, further fortifying property prices.

This cyclical pattern sustains the entire market as sellers, propelled by the increasing demand, progress up the property ladder, thereby enabling others to purchase homes and continuing the process in a chain-like manner.

These are indeed interesting times in the Chelmsford property market!

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