Many owners decline to rent the homes due to local council tax rules, which tax properties at a lower rate if they are empty and unfurnished.
It is just like government to create a tax incentive for owners to leave properties vacant, and then, to fix the fact that people are actually leaving the properties vacant, employ someone whose job it is to find owners and force them to sell or occupy the properties. I mean, what else could they do? Stop offering the tax incentive? That's just crazy talk!
But this was my favorite part:
Mr. Palmer often takes a more sympathetic view to squatters than he does toward the owners of an abandoned property. [...] "At the end of the day, they have a similar goal of putting empty properties back into use," he says. "We just go about it in two very different ways."
Which is quite cool, especially since "they attract squatters" is one reason cities dislike vacant properties. OTOH, even squatters will make some effort to maintain the property they're living in.