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Grenfell Tower fire: Council figures reveal nearly 2,000 empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea

As many survivors await new accommodation, new figures show 1,857 empty homes in the borough, with some probably vacant for more than a decade

As the struggle to rehome all those who lost their properties in the Grenfell Tower disaster continues, new figures have shown there are nearly 2,000 empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea.

Information obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed there to be 1,857 empty properties in the borough.

At the start of this month, just 14 out of 158 Grenfell families had accepted temporary accommodation, with many complaining that the properties offered to them were inadequate.

The findings are revealed in the Who Owns England? blog, which submitted the FOI to Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Its report also highlights a 2015 housing and property scrutiny committee report examining the buy to leave problem in the borough, which reveals a number of homes in Kensington and Chelsea which have remained vacant for roughly between 11 and 16 years.

The FOI figure is also significantly higher than the 1,399 vacant homes listed in the Royal borough by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in April this year.

The figures show also a significant number of empty homes are in affluent areas, such as the Brompton and Hans Town wards which incorporate Knightsbridge and South Kensington, which have a higher level of offshore owners.

These buy to leave properties are colloquially known as ghost homes.

The newly released data also reveals 696 properties in the Royal borough had been empty for more than two years, with only 50 unoccupied for less than a year because of works in progress.

1,111 are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished.

The 2015 council report says “high numbers of empty properties can be found in the Brompton and Hans Town Ward and Courtfield”, and also states the buy to leave phenomenon was resulting in a “net loss of households each year despite the net gain in properties granted planning permission and completed”.

The government set itself a deadline to rehouse survivors within three weeks of the disaster.

But nearly six weeks since the fire, only around 40 families have accepted offers.

Last week the council said residents will not be forced into accepting an offer of social housing and will only move into a permanent home if they are happy to do so.

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