1 in 20 Homes Left Unoccupied in Swansea and Rhondda, Census 2021 Results Reveal

Recent census 2021 data discovers that an astounding number of properties are left uninhabited in the Swansea and Rhondda areas.

The first batch of data from the 2021 Census has been released, and it has revealed some surprising statistics regarding the number of homes that are currently occupied.

The team at David W Harris have analysed data from the 2021 census, which showed the number of households in Wales with at least one usual resident living in the property. This included both owned and rented properties.

To better understand how many properties are standing empty in the Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taf areas, we compared this data to the number of dwellings currently standing in Wales. This provided us with a value for the difference, which we used to show a percentage of homes that are unoccupied.

What did we discover about unoccupied properties in Wales based on the 2021 census data?

The highest percentages of unoccupied dwellings in Local Authorities (LAs) within Wales were as follows:

  1. Gwynedd 18.35%
  2. Ceredigion 13.35%
  3. Isle of Anglesey 12.09%
  4. Pembrokeshire 11.95%
  5. Conwy 9.77%
  6. Carmarthenshire 7.54%
  7. Blaenau Gwent 7.43%
  8. Powys 7.26%
  9. Swansea 6.31%
  10. Neath Port Talbot 5.33%

The Swansea area does not have the highest or lowest percentage of unoccupied dwellings within Wales, placing 9th out of 22 LAs. That said, it does contain a total of 112,072 dwellings, 105,000 of which are inhabited by at least one usual resident. This leaves a shocking 7,072 of homes left unoccupied.

Similarly, although Rhondda does not make it into our top 10 list above, it places 13th, with 5,120 homes unoccupied out of 108,420. This is almost 5% of properties in the area.

At the lowest end of the scale is Denbighshire, with just 1,143 unoccupied homes – 2.63% of the overall number of dwellings.

How do Wales and England unoccupied dwellings compare?

To get a clearer idea of how Wales and England compare to each other, we have taken a closer look at the percentage of unoccupied homes across England. The highest percentages of unoccupied dwellings in Local Authorities within England were:

  1. City of London – 31%
  2. Westminster – 25%
  3. Kensington and Chelsea – 24%
  4. South Hams – 15%
  5. North Norfolk – 15%
  6. South Lakeland – 15%
  7. Scarborough – 15%
  8. Richmondshire – 14%
  9. King's Lynn and West Norfolk – 13%
  10. Camden – 13%

Meanwhile, the LAs in England with the lowest percentage of unoccupied dwellings were:

  1. Hounslow – 1%
  2. North East Derbyshire – 1%
  3. Wokingham – 1%
  4. Basingstoke and Deane – 1%
  5. Peterborough – 1%
  6. Huntingdonshire – 1%
  7. Bromsgrove – 1%
  8. West Northamptonshire – 1%
  9. Redbridge – 2%
  10. Waltham Forest – 2%

From this, we can determine that Wales has a higher percentage of unoccupied dwellings than England. The data uncovered that the average percentage of unoccupied dwellings in England came to around 4.9%. In comparison, the average in Wales was around 6.7%. This is a percentage difference of 1.8%.

What are the possible reasons for the volume of unoccupied dwellings in Swansea and Rhondda?

Swansea and Rhondda are the second and third largest LAs across Wales, after Cardiff, yet the areas contain more unoccupied dwellings, with around 1 in 20 dwellings without a minimum of one regular occupant in comparison to Cardiff’s 1 in 25. But why could this be the case?

The data shows us that the size of the Local Authority and the total number of dwellings do not correlate. As specified above, Cardiff is the largest LA in Wales, having a total of 153,365 dwellings, but it does have a less significant difference in unoccupied dwellings, with 6,065 properties left uninhabited. This is a total of 1,007 more homes left empty in Swansea compared to Cardiff.

Gwynedd was the LA in Wales with the highest number of unoccupied homes, but it is also the LA with the highest number of properties either owned outright or owned through a mortgage or loan at 87%.

These figures could create some speculation that areas which have more properties owned outright or through mortgage or loan are more likely to be left unoccupied compared to those which are rented. Could this be due to these properties being bought primarily as second homes for holiday purposes? This comes to our next point concerning property price increases in Swansea and Wales.

In 2019, the average property price in Swansea was £182,541. This has since skyrocketed 16%, now averaging an overall price of £212,169. Similarly, the rest of Wales has seen an increase in property prices since 2019, with a 1% increase, averaging at from £396,025 to £400,368 in 2022.

From the increase in property prices in Swansea and Wales, we can presume individuals have been left unable to purchase properties or unable to live by themselves, meaning they are having to look for more cost-effective living arrangements, whether this is house sharing with other occupants or moving back home to live with family. Doing this clearly reduces the number of occupied houses, instead meaning households living under one roof are increasing in size.

Think you’d like to fill one of the unoccupied houses in Swansea or Rhondda? The David W Harris team have a group of expert conveyancing solicitors to help you find the home of your dreams. Alternatively, call 01792 455400 for more information.

Data Sources


This report has been created with reference to the findings uncovered by the 2021 Census and Welsh Government statistics.

To determine the number and percentage of unoccupied dwellings in Wales, we calculated the difference between the total number of households with at least one regular resident, and the total number of dwellings for that Local Authority, and divided that figure by the total number of dwellings for that Local Authority. Doing this provided us with a clear percentage of unoccupied homes.

While the rented and dwellings owned outright or through mortgage/loan was taken from the ONS, it is subject to variability. The figures provided throughout the report are merely an estimate.

Please keep in mind that, while the data was obtained from reputable sources, the interpretations are that of the David W Harris researchers.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.