A local authority is pioneering a step-change in planning policies which would require all new homes to be regularly lived in.Islington Council in north London is to consult on its propos...
A local authority is pioneering a step-change in planning policies which would require all new homes to be regularly lived in.
Islington Council in north London is to consult on its proposals. They are an attempt to stop the ‘buy to leave' phenomenon by which new homes are bought as investments and left to stand empty while their capital value appreciates.
Many of these properties are marketed off-plan to wealthy overseas investors.
Islington has seen an increase in ‘buy to leave' properties, with a third or more homes in some new developments left empty.
The council said that such homes are “wasted supply”.
Following initial consultation earlier this year, the council has now set out draft planning measures – the first time a local authority anywhere in the country has tried to tackle ‘buy to leave' using planning powers.
These would require new homes not to be left unoccupied for longer than three months. They have to be occupied for at least 14 days in any three-month period.
The council would be able to take legal action, such as seeking a High Court injunction, against the owner of any property in the borough empty for more than three months.
Breaking the injunction could lead to a fine, prison and even seizure of the empty property.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said: “In Islington, as across London, there is a desperate shortage of housing.
“It's wrong when new homes sit there empty purely as investments, when Londoners are desperately trying to find somewhere to live.
“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.”
Consultation on the proposal runs until January 30.