• Kevin Murphy

London & The Vacant Homes

As a national housing shortage has always been an issue for British homebuyers a new report released by PropertyWire says that close to 25,000 homes in London are empty. This number is the highest since 2012 with 56,000 families in the capital still relying on temporary accommodations between April and June 2019.

Tom Copley AM, Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesperson, plans on bringing up the issue with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan saying in PropertyWire that we “desperately need a helping hand from the government.”

“With so many thousands of families being forced to languish in often insecure and unsuitable temporary accommodation, it is unacceptable for homes to lie empty and unused."

“While bringing empty homes into use won’t solve the housing crisis by itself, it’s in everyone’s interests to clamp down on this entirely needless waste and injustice. But if we are to make any signi!cant progress, local authorities whose budgets have been recklessly slashed over a decade of austerity, desperately need a helping hand from Central government."

“As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was vocal in his support of much stronger measures to get to grips with this issue. Now that he has his hands on the necessary levers of power, he must restore government funding and devolve much greater powers to local authorities speci!cally aimed at targeting empty homes.”

The Mayor of London has proposed an increase in local council tax premiumsoft vacant homes and using clamping down on ‘buy to leave’ property investments with a ‘First Dibs for Londoners’ housing policy.

The report states:

'To tackle long-term vacant properties local authorities can currently charge council tax premiums, implement compulsory purchase orders and enact empty dwelling management orders.'

In a 2019 review Action on Empty Homes has urged the government to issue a national investment programme for community groups and empty homes in the hardest hit locations.

'Between 2012 and 2015, the then government allocated £156m of funding aimed at bringing empty homes back into use. This was also boosted by an addition £60m as part of the Clusters of Empty Homes Programme.'

As mayor of London Boris Johnson in 2014 called for changes in laws allowing local authorities to initiate a 'ten-fold' rise in council taxes on properties that had been vacant for at least a year.

The report ends by saying:

'From April this year, the government is allowing councils to charge a premium on council tax of up to 200%, but only for homes left empty for longer than five years.'

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