Government figures have revealed there were hundreds of homes in Havering last year which had been empty for more than six months.

New data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said that there were 657 long-term empty homes in Havering when a snapshot was taken in 2022.

Councillor Paul McGeary, cabinet member for housing, said that these privately-owned homes are those dwellings which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than six months.

Havering stood 23rd out of all the London boroughs on the list, with the London average being at 1,064 homes. Southwark, Newham and Barnet topped the list with 1,944, 1,891, and 1,820 long-term vacant homes each.

Havering's number fell from 724 in 2021 but remains a long way above the 494 recorded in 2017.

Some of the reasons behind the vacant properties, according to the council, include families going through probate after the death of a property owner and people not wanting to be a landlord.

People using them as second homes or as speculative investments, as well as an owner being away for personal or medical reasons, were among other probable causes given by the council.

Read More: Chadwell Heath rental home gets a whopping 52 offers 

Councillor McGeary said the authority tries to take steps to make use of these homes.

Last year, he claimed, the council’s teams helped identify these privately-owned properties to bring them back in use.

Twenty properties were referred to the private sector licensing team out of which 13 were either sold or were advertised for sale due to this exercise, he said.

The government data also revealed there were 137 council-owned properties that were vacant in 2022, compared to 119 in 2021.

Councillor McGeary clarified that these are largely homes that are associated with regeneration projects and are empty pending demolition.

The council, he claims, tries to use as many properties as possible for temporary accommodation.

He added: “We continue to make improvements to social housing in the borough, through the estate improvement work, and creating new homes for local people.”

Last month two Havering postcodes, RM7 and RM5, were among London’s ‘hottest’ property markets according to research from property market forecasters PropCast.

Matt Thompson, head of sales at estate agency chain Chestertons, had told the Recorder that ongoing infrastructural investments like the Elizabeth line have vastly extended the search radius for some house hunters.