More than 11,000 homes across the UK have been empty for 10 years or more, research by the Liberal Democrats has found.
The figures, from 276 local councils, show there are more than 216,000 homes across the country which have been empty for six months or more.
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable called it a “national scandal”, at a time when “the homelessness crisis is worsening”.
The number of empty homes is down a third since 2010, the government said.
Durham had the most empty homes (6,500) followed by Leeds (5,724), Bradford (4,144), Cornwall (3,273) and Liverpool (3,093).
The data – obtained through a Freedom of Information request – also reveals only one in 13 councils is making use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
EDMOs allow councils in England and Wales to take over residential properties that have been empty for six months or more.
Just 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded (the powers do not apply in Scotland) had used an EDMO in the past five years.
Councils did return 23,000 empty homes back into use.
Meanwhile homelessness in the UK is getting worse.
In December, a committee of MPs found more than 78,000 families were living in temporary accommodation in England. The number of people sleeping on the streets had increased by 134% since 2011.
Mr Cable has called on the government to review the current system “which is clearly not working”.
“Councils need to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use,” he said.
“This must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government pointed out that powers had been given to councils to bring empty homes back into use.
“At the same time, we’re implementing the major changes to law and investing over £1bn to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping,” a spokesman added.