Islington’s Labour-controlled council has adopted pioneering new planning measures that require new homes in the borough to be regularly occupied in a bid to stop the rise of so-called "buy to leave" properties.
These are homes purchased, typically by wealthy investors, who do not even let them out. Instead they are left unoccupied, to be sold after sufficient capital appreciation has been secured to satisfy the investor.
In recent years there have been several claims by estate agents and the media that some properties, usually in central London, are purchased and then deliberately left empty. This applies more to new-build units purchased off-plan than to existing properties.
Islington council is using a supplementary planning document, just endorsed by the authority’s executive committee, to oblige owners of new homes not to leave their properties empty for longer than three months.
If a property is lived in for less than two weeks every three months the council could take action including ultimately seeking an injunction from the High Court against the owner.
"London is facing a housing crisis and it's vital that all new homes help meet the huge demand for places to live. It's wrong if new homes are sold off-plan to investors who don't even rent the properties out. It's truly galling for Londoners who are desperately trying to find somewhere to live” says councillor James Murray, Islington's executive member for housing and development.
"Our new measures make it clear that buy to leave is unacceptable. They make clear that new homes have to, at the very least, be lived in - I think that's a pretty reasonable thing to ask" he says.