Vacant dwellings are perceived to be a waste of valuable housing resources, a magnet for crime and antisocial behaviour and a visual blight in a neighbourhood. Financially, they represent a loss of council tax revenue and can depress the general level of property values in a locality. A slow rate of house construction over the past two decades, rising disposable incomes and a shift in the demographic profile of home-owners in England has led to a very high rate of house price inflation over the past ten years and this has caused vacant dwellings to become a focus of political attention. This attention has culminated in provisions enacted in the Housing Act, 2004 which allows local authorities to force vacant dwellings into use as a way of addressing housing need. But how many vacant dwellings are there, where are they and how long have they been empty for? There is a lack of property-specific information about the vacant housing stock in England and this makes it difficult to make policy decisions and use legislative powers in relation to specific dwellings or neighbourhoods. This paper contends that the published estimate of the number of vacant dwellings in England is inadequately defined. A method of obtaining detailed information about vacant dwellings that makes use of existing data is presented, vacancy statistics for Leeds are calculated and it is demonstrated that these statistics are capable of being aggregated and mapped at postcode, ward and local authority levels.