The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has labelled the notion that landlords are deliberately leaving properties empty as ‘nonsense’.

There are an estimated 700,000 empty homes in England – 270,000 of which have been empty for over six months.

This has lead to criticism of the private rented sector with claims that some landlords are choosing not to rent properties out.

But following research by RLA, its chairman Alan Ward insists the claim has no basis of truth.

Almost 62 per cent of RLA members stated that less than 10 per cent of their portfolios had been empty for longer than one month at any one time.

Mr Ward said: “It is clear from the RLA’s research that where private rented property is empty in the main it is being regenerated and made available for occupancy.

“It is unfair to point the finger at landlords. Quite simply landlords are not in business to leave properties empty – they invest in real estate to generate rent and yields.

“It is not in the interest for any landlord to keep their properties empty – for each day a property is empty it is costing them in lost rent, council tax payments, utility charges, and in many cases, mortgage and loan repayments.

“Properties are empty for many reasons including planning delays, probate and business disputes, sentimental family reasons, and lethargy or indifference on the part of the owner – none of which have any relevance to the actions of landlords in the private rented sector.”

Mr Ward added how landlords are continuing to drive investment and regeneration in the housing sector.

There are over 1.6m more properties in the private rented sector than in 1999 and 84 per cent of tenants are satisfied with their homes.

Mr Ward said: “It seems that landlords are being unfairly targeted for a problem that is simply not of their making.

“From all the feedback that the RLA receives from its membership and the wider private rented sector community it is clear that a process of investment and regeneration in the housing sector is being driven by landlords.

“The few that choose to sit empty properties and rely on unreliable house price trends, instead of catering for immediate demand and its subsequent yields, are simply in the wrong profession.”