Volume of unoccupied properties sees 35% spike during 2020

Property Reporter
7th April 2021
winter house home london snow terrace

Pending sales, bereavements, and renovations have been revealed as the top three reasons for unoccupied properties during 2020, resulting in a 35% surge of temporarily empty homes.

New research by highlights that the highest unoccupied period across 2019 and 2020 was just 3-6 months, followed by 1-3 months – making up 56% of all insurance premiums surveyed. The findings show ‘pending sale’ followed by ‘undergoing renovation’ and ‘owner bereavement’ as the top three reasons for unoccupied properties in 2019.

2020 also saw ‘pending sale’ hit the top spot with a 27% increase from 2019 but second place was replaced by ‘owner bereavement’, with ‘undergoing renovation’ staying in the top three but slipping to third.

The data is based on a sample of 15,000 unoccupied property insurance policies between January 2019 and December 2020, which revealed a 35% year-on-year jump in unoccupied properties.

The only reason for a property being unoccupied that declined in 2020 was owners who travel and work outside the UK, likely due to lockdown travel restrictions.

Greg Wilson, founder of, comments: “There are a number of possible explanations for the spike in unoccupied properties in 2020, but the desire of many UK homeowners to make their home their castle during lockdown is one likely cause, with home renovations continuing to be one of the top three reasons for an unoccupied property.

“The strength of the UK property market is also likely to be having an effect, with the number of homes unoccupied pending a sale jumping by 27% in 2020 as the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday triggered a mini property market boom.

“But whatever the cause, it’s a positive sign that so many homeowners are taking the sensible decision of insuring their property even when it is unoccupied. While some people may assume that things are less likely to go wrong when a home is unoccupied, the truth is that unoccupied properties are actually a higher insurance risk than occupied properties.

“Unoccupied properties are an easy target for vandals or squatters and small issues such as a leak or a patch of rising damp can spread and become much more costly if no one is there to notice and fix the initial damage. Still, insurance costs can be kept competitive by using comparison sites such as ours, to compare unoccupied property insurance quotes from a wide variety of providers – so it doesn’t have to cost the earth to protect your assets and safeguard your finances.”

Related articles
More from Property
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Commercial Reporter
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 30,000 intermediaries and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.