The 'Tumbleweeders': UK's home under-occupation uncovered

The five most under-occupied areas in the UK are all rural locations
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Around 47 per cent of private households in the UK live in homes that are too large for their needs, says a new report from estate agent Strutt & Parker who have named this group 'Tumbleweeders'.

In its Housing Futures report, Strutt & Parker defines a 'Tumbleweeder' as people who have two or more bedrooms than required for the number of people living in their home. They include empty nesters who have not downsized, and families who have had ageing parents live with them in the past.

Its figures suggest that the five most under-occupied areas in the UK are all rural ones - Rutland in the East Midlands where 63 per cent of residents are 'Tumbleweeders', Eilean Siar in Scotland (60 per cent), Monmouthshire in Wales (59 per cent), The Cotswolds (59 per cent) and the Orkney Islands (58 per cent).

"Lack of supply is often cited as the biggest issue facing the housing industry in the UK," said Stephanie McMahon, Head of Research at Strutt & Parker. "However, these figures clearly show that under-occupation is an equally huge issue.”

The five least under-occupied areas in the UK are all in central London except Glasgow City where only 19 per cent of residents are 'Tumbleweeders'. City of London is the lowest at 13 per cent, followed by Tower Hamlets (17 per cent), Westminster (24 per cent) and Hackney (25 per cent).

"The challenge for the industry is to provide suitable solutions to individuals’ housing needs," said McMahon. "We need to build more homes that our older generations are prepared to downsize into. As a nation of low supply and high demand, we would rather have all homes occupied efficiently where possible. In reality, Tumbleweeders have the potential to be one of the greatest limiters of supply."