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Industry body demands action over scandal of 'buy to leave'

Action is needed to tackle the scandal of ‘buy to leave’ investors who are denying Londoners the homes they need, according to an industry body.

The Residential Landlords’ Association says with almost 57,000 homes in the capital thought to be empty, the next Mayor of London needs to use the powers available to ensure such homes are being used either by landlords who want to offer properties to live in or are available to for purchase by would be home owners.

It says that while ministers have introduced a wide number of tax changes designed to hit those purchasing additional property, many of these will not affect overseas investors who traditionally buy homes then leave them empty.


The RLA’s ‘Manifesto for London’ calls also for new ways to enforce the large number of powers available to councils to protect tenants from criminal landlords and for greater efforts to free up small plots of unused land across London for the development of homes to rent the capital desperately needs.

According to an analysis by the accountants PwC, around 60 per cent of Londoners will be in private rented housing by 2025. The RLA is calling for the new Mayor to work positively with landlords to ensure that these homes are safe, legal and secure by encouraging good landlords to develop new homes.

“The next Mayor needs to use all the powers they have to stamp out this [buy to leave] practice, and encourage good, decent landlords to provide the homes to rent Londoners need” says David Smith, policy director for the association.

“The majority of landlords provide decent homes to their tenants and are as keen as anyone else to root out the crooks often preying on vulnerable people. The next Mayor should work positively with them rather than seeing them as a problem to be dealt with.”

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    Smacks of big brother to me and I don't mean the foolish T.V. programme but the book.

    Algarve  Investor

    In what way? Buy to leave is a disgrace. And I say that as someone who has investments overseas. Difference being, I let my homes out throughout the year to tourists and holiday makers. My properties are very rarely empty, especially in the peak summer and early autumn months.

    The people who buy up properties in London just to sit on them and watch their value grow are only there to make a quick buck. You could argue that is what any investor is doing - speculating to accumulate - but that's only because Boris Johnson is making London such an attractive place for wealthy investors who have no interest in working, living or spending their money in the capital. They simply want to mine their assets for all its worth and then move on.

    Why can't these properties be let out at affordable rates? What is the point of them sitting empty for 11 months of the year? There are whole tower blocks springing up that will be purchased by the Buy to Leave brigade. What's the point? There is a housing crisis in London, yet there is plenty of housing to go around. There are so many empty and uninhabited properties in London that could be used for rental purposes or, at the very least, as somewhere for people to stay when the visit. At the moment these homes have no use. That's not good enough.

    It's got nothing to do with Big Brother. It's exactly the right move to clamp down on this sort of thing. Other countries have far stricter rules on foreign investors buying up property - as it should be.

    It's the same in places like Cornwall. Rich folk from the city buying up homes that don't serve a function for most of the year - a bit like Wimbledon or the Olympic Stadium (until West Ham move in, that is).


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