Local councils are failing to exercise their powers to seize empty homes, research from estate agency James Pendleton shows.
There were just nine seizure applications in 2016 despite there being more than 200,000 long-term empty properties in England.
Since 2006 councils have had the power to issue an Empty Dwelling Management Orders on homes left vacant for more than two years.
Lucy Pendleton, founder director of James Pendleton, said: “This is a disgraceful waste of powers given to councils to help solve the housing crisis.
“EDMOs should be seen as a crucial tool in a country where so many families and first-time buyers are struggling to get on the housing ladder or move to suitable accommodation.
“The figures are extremely worrying for England.”
Pendleton went on to say it was ‘even more disturbing’ that applications dropped to zero in London, despite the capital having nearly 20,000 empty homes.
The number of applications country-wide peaked at 41 in 2012 but has slid to an average of less than 20 a year since then.