Housing abandonment in inner cities - The politics of low demand for housing

P Keenan, S Lowe, S Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Abandonment of property in all housing tenures is a problem in some British inner cities, especially in the north of England. The paper outlines the causes of this phenomenon and describes some of the social problems that arise in areas containing significant quantities of abandoned property, A principal underlying cause of abandonment is low demand creating, initially, voids and vacancies in the dwelling stock and ultimately housing abandonment. The paper considers the relationship between empty stock and abandonment particularly in the social housing sector. It reviews the US and UK literature and concludes that the UK literature and research agenda is deficient in its analysis of the problem of abandonment. The paper then explores evidence of the source of the abandonment problem in the low demand for housing in some parts of the country, particularly those affected by industrial collapse. Abandonment is also explained as a case of policy failure particularly due to the housing subsidy system and the conflicting interests of central and local government. Finally, the social consequences for communities afflicted by low demand and abandonment are explored and evidence is presented of the severe impact on neighbourhood stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-716
Number of pages14
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1999

Cite this