Islington council is proposing to take action against buy to leave property investors in the borough after claiming that as many as 30 per cent of homes built in last six years have nobody registered on the electoral role.
Robert Booth writing in The Guardian writes that property investors who leave homes empty just to make money from property price rises could be fined or even jailed under proposals made by the London council.
Islington is planning to make owners of newly built homes to prove they are occupied. Where these homes are left empty for more than three months at a stretch their owners would face high court injunctions.
This would mean that if the injunctions were breached the owners would be fined, face a repossession or in the worst case scenario, face jail.
The council is claiming that in one of the most densely populated boroughs this drastic action is justified because 30 per cent of 2,000 homes newly built homes have nobody on the electoral register.
Even when students and foreign tenants are not counted, around one-quarter quarter of homes the newest residential developments appear to be empty according to The Guardian report.
Owners of these properties would be required to prove they are legitimately occupied by being fully furnished, and show evidence of up-to-date utility and council tax bills etc.
Cllr James Murray, the council’s executive member for housing has said:
“Our new proposals would make sure that all new homes in Islington are occupied – we want to send a message that ‘buy-to-leave’ is unacceptable”
The proposals will be sent out for consultation Monday. This will represent the first time a UK council has tried such a drastic measure to tackle buy-to-leave using the planning laws and could set a precedent if successful.
The proposal has been welcomed by housing campaigners but is likely to vehemently opposed by property developers and investors.
Further, one planning expert claims that the unprecedented move could be open to legal challenge as a serious infringement of individual property rights.
Buy to Leave investors could face fines or jail if Islington Council get their way over empty homes in the borough – http://t.co/vJ2bpSIY3N
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) December 5, 2014