Buy-to-leave homeowners may face fines and even prison sentences for buying properties and leaving them vacant under new measures introduced by Islington Council.
Growing numbers of foreign investors are cashing in on the soaring housing prices in the capital, but leaving properties empty as their value rises.
Now, Islington Council is threatening property owners who have no intention of living in their acquisitions or even renting them out with jail.
Property in many foreign nations is viewed as a safer investment than banking. As such, a significant number of buy-to-leave investment schemes have occurred in the capital, with Islington proving one of the most sought-after areas.
A third of all new homes built in the borough over the last ten years have been bought by off-shore investors. Many of them are left vacant.
The authority has vowed to halt buy-to-leave investment schemes are is currently consulting on new rules that will require properties to be occupied regularly. Any home left uninhabited for less than 14 days in any three-month period will become the subject of legal action. Breaking the injunction persistently could lead to a fine, prison, and even seizure of the empty property.
Islington Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Development Councillor James Murray 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.”