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London council plans to fine “buy-to-leave” investorsIslington Council plans to fine the owners of new homes left empty for long periods of time.

Landlords who don't live in a new build home, and don't rent it to tenants, could be fined up to £60,000 under the plans which aim to clamp down on empty housing in the capital.

Islington Council says "buy-to-leave" homes - new homes that are sold as investments, often marketed off-plan overseas, and left to stand empty - are rapidly becoming a problem in the borough, especially in EC1.

As many as half the homes in some recent developments in EC1 have no-one on the Electoral Roll, according to council data. This phenomenon has also been seen in other parts of central London, and in major new developments in the capital.

The council has said that new homes sitting empty represent wasted supply, making no contribution to meeting Islington's need for new places for people to live.

The problem of new homes sitting empty is correlated with an influx of overseas money, which in turn pushes up prices and increases the affordability crisis in Islington.

The council has launched a consultation on a new discussion paper - Preventing Wasted Housing Supply - which considers measures to deal with the issue, including:

  • requiring a financial contribution to be made where new dwellings are left unoccupied, to contribute to affordable housing elsewhere
  • shifting the onus to the owners of new homes to prove they are regularly occupied, if the council suspects they are not
  • exploring further the effects of overseas marketing campaigns on the market for new homes, and whether further action, such as marketing homes locally, is required.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said: "In Islington, as across London, it's harder and harder for people to find somewhere they can afford to live. At the same time, expensive new housing is being built, often sold off-plan overseas, and then left to stand empty.

"It's galling for Londoners to see homes being sold overseas before they're even built - and it's outrageous for new homes to then stand empty in the middle of a housing crisis.

"In Islington we desperately need more affordable housing, and every new home should help meet our housing shortage. We cannot stand by as new homes sit there as empty, purely as investments, and so we are setting out our plans to end this."

Consultation has now begun on the discussion paper, which can be found online at www.islington.gov.uk/services/planning/planningpol/pol_supplement/Pages/prevent-wasted-housing.aspx. It runs until 14 April

It will be used to help inform a Supplementary Planning Document, to help guide new developments in Islington.

The measures proposed in the discussion paper would not affect existing homes, but would be applied to future developments.

Comments

  • Totally agree and its about time this people are shafted when so many people are left on the street. Share the wealth guys, help a person in need and bravo to Islington council... brave but warranted

    • 14 April 2015 19:49 PM
  • I can imagine it may help in the short term but there will be some loophole. It's not helping the problem like PeeBee mentioned a lot of the properties are just unfordable which is why they are empty in the first place.

    • 10 February 2015 12:37 PM
  • This has to happen, and sooner rather than later. Great to see steps are being taken. Probably too little, too late, but only time will tell. Here's hoping that something can be done to help people already set up in the U.K. as opposed to overseas. At the end of the day, and empty house is an empty house.

    • 13 January 2015 18:19 PM
  • It still is a free country, but maybe not for much longer for property owners in Islington.
    The glorious Borough of Haringey Islington's close comrades would no doubt like to jump on this particular bandwagon, but probably realise being such a dump, its unlikely to ever be a haven for many foreign investors with the exception of Highgate

    • 02 April 2014 19:00 PM
  • "Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said: "In Islington, as across London, it's harder and harder for people to find somewhere they can afford to live. At the same time, expensive new housing is being built, often sold off-plan overseas, and then left to stand empty."

    Erm... sorry - you've already said that buyers cannot afford these homes.

    "It's galling for Londoners to see homes being sold overseas before theyre even built and it's outrageous for new homes to then stand empty in the middle of a housing crisis."

    It's more outrageous that you don't understand that these homes cannot be bought by those that supposedly are the root of this "housing crisis".

    "In Islington we desperately need more affordable housing, and every new home should help meet our housing shortage. We cannot stand by as new homes sit there as empty, purely as investments, and so we are setting out our plans to end this."

    Okay - lets have a look at the reality:
    http://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/Islington-87515.html

    ONE BED FLATS at a quarter-mill. How the chuff do you expect 'yer average' buyer to snap these up before Jonnie Foreigner with their wads of cash

    "The council has launched a consultation on a new discussion paper..."

    Ahhh... that's more like it - council spends a chunk of taxpayers money on 'research' that shows four bedroom houses in Islington are unaffordable for their subject 'buyer profile' - a trainee hairdresser called Persephone - and her Persian pussy to lay their heads down at night.

    They'll have the Cat Society behind them 100% on this. And Shelter.

    And, apparently, the Longden person.

    • 02 April 2014 10:54 AM
  • About flaming time. Now take action on second homes in small communities by letting the local parish council decide how many can be accommodated without harming the area. However, fining doesn't address the real problem of too many people (thanks immigration) chasing too few dwellings, and forever building new while still allowing non-use simply gobbles up the countryside for no good sane reason.

    • 02 April 2014 10:05 AM
  • So, this is still a 'free' country
    I would agree with 'overseas' investors being banned (not just fined) from owning property here just as an investment but not British citizens

    • 02 April 2014 09:22 AM