The ‘Wood & Vale’ reports;
“Westminster is being urged to follow in the footsteps of a London council and crackdown on “buy-to-leave” investors who snap up properties and leave them vacant.
Cllr Guthrie McKie wants the council to consider following Islington, which this week became the first local authority in the country to announce it is looking into fining home owners who fail to prove their property is occupied.
It hopes the scheme would address the borough’s housing shortage and stop wealthy overseas property investors ploughing their cash into new-build homes which they have no intention of living in, or renting out.
Cllr McKie, Labour’s housing spokesman, said: “I think it is an excellent idea. It is one of the problems we have, particularly in central parts of Westminster.
“Investors buy properties and leave them empty. There’s a whole raft of measures we would bring in to tackle the problem, and that is definitely one we would want to bring in.”
The practice of “buy-to-leave” has been widely criticised across London.
The Wood&Vale has previously reported fears that the disused police station, in St John’s Wood in Newcourt Street, could be turned into luxury flats by super-rich overseas developers with no intention of living in them.
This week St John’s Wood Society has said it would support Westminster Council bringing in any measures that would prevent homes lying empty.
Alex Lituchy, of Abbey Road, Maida Vale, told the Wood&Vale: “I think that following Islington’s lead on fining ‘buy-to-leave’ investors is a good thing, so people can afford the new homes that are developed with this money.”
But the council said it has no plans to roll out a similar scheme in the borough.”