MORE than 1,000 homes are lying empty across east London and Epping Forest, according to new figures.

A total of 1,086 properties have been left vacant across Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Epping Forest for six months or longer.

Redbridge suffers from the highest amount of all three boroughs, with 559 homes empty for six months or more. 

Epping Forest has 305 homes empty, while Waltham Forest has 222 without occupants.

The Housing Act 2004 allows councils to put empty properties back into use as housing by taking out an empty dwelling management order (EDMOs).

Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, cabinet member for housing at Waltham Forest Council, said: “It is a national scandal that properties are standing empty while people are struggling to get homes as the housing crisis grows ever-worse under this directionless government. 

“In the past year, our empty property grant scheme has brought 11 empty properties up to the Decent Homes Standard, which were subsequently let to households on the council’s waiting list. 

“We also have a system where residents can report properties left vacant for long periods so we can look at what we might be able do to turn it into a new home for people who need it.

“Using empty dwelling management orders is a complex and lengthy process. 

“To secure an EDMO the local authority must show that a property has been empty for at least two years and has been vandalised or used for antisocial purposes.

“Councils must also demonstrate that the property is causing a nuisance to the community.”

A total of 7,997 households are on Waltham Forest Council’s register waiting for a new home, while 5,212 people in Redbridge wait for new homes.

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “The current council policy and practice is to contact and work with owners of empty properties as far as possible. 

“Where owners are willing to work with the council, we try to assist them in bringing the property back into use, including providing access to financial assistance (Empty Property Grants) for required building work linked to a condition of the council having nomination rights for tenants for five years and advice relating to sourcing contractors and where reduced rate VAT may be applicable. 

“The council does include the use of EDMOs as an enforcement option together with Enforced Sales and Compulsory Purchase action. 

“We have not imposed any EDMOs in 2016/17, the threat of enforcement sanctions can often be enough to encourage owners to engage with the local authority and to take steps towards bringing their properties back into use.  

“The current council approach to empty properties has resulted 107 empty properties being brought back into use following local authority intervention in 2016/2017.”

Epping Forest has the highest amount of homes lying empty for 10 years with 26. Waltham Forest comes next with 15 and Redbridge has 10.

Carol Roworth, a grandmother living in Waltham Abbey, was forced to sleep rough for more than a week after a disagreement with her landlord resulted in her leaving her house of six years.

She criticised Epping Forest District Council, which told her that she had made herself “voluntarily homeless” by refusing to rent privately and was not eligible for social housing.

The Guardian has approached Epping Forest District Council for comment.