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London borough to use s. 106 agreements to tackle 'buy-to-leave' homes

A London borough is consulting on plans to use s. 106 agreements to tackle the issue of “buy-to-leave” homes.

Islington Council claimed that the homes – which are “sold as investments, often marketed off-plan overseas, and left to stand empty” – were rapidly becoming a problem, especially in EC1, and increasing affordability difficulties.

The authority said its data suggested that as many as half the homes in some recent developments in the postcode had no-one on the Electoral Roll.

In its consultation paper, Preventing Wasted Housing Supply, Islington suggests measures including:

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  • requiring a financial contribution to be made where new dwellings are left unoccupied, “to contribute to affordable housing elsewhere”;
  • shifting the onus to the owners of new homes to prove they are regularly occupied, if the council suspects they are not;
  • exploring further the effects of overseas marketing campaigns on the market for new homes, and whether further action, such as marketing homes locally, is required.

The consultation, which runs until 14 April, will be used to inform a Supplementary Planning Document. Only future developments will be affected.

Cllr James Murray, Islington's executive member for housing and development, said: "In Islington, as across London, it's harder and harder for people to find somewhere they can afford to live. At the same time, expensive new housing is being built, often sold off-plan overseas, and then left to stand empty.

"It's galling for Londoners to see homes being sold overseas before they’re even built - and it's outrageous for new homes to then stand empty in the middle of a housing crisis.”

Cllr Murray added: "In Islington we desperately need more affordable housing, and every new home should help meet our housing shortage. We cannot stand by as new homes sit there as empty, purely as investments, and so we are setting out our plans to end this."

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