Islington Council is clamping down on investors who buy new build apartments but don’t end up living in them.
The borough has seen an increase in the number of wealthy investors buying property and leaving it unoccupied, to be sold on after the value of the property has risen significantly. This has been termed “buy-to-leave” and has meant that people who actually want to live in the area cannot find properties.
Islington Council has introduced planning measures which mean that a property must be lived in for at least two weeks every three months. Otherwise, the Council has the ability to seek a High Court injunction against the owner.
Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, James Murray, said, “London is facing a housing crisis and it's vital that all new homes help meet the huge demand for places to live. It's wrong if new homes are sold off-plan to investors who don't even rent the properties out.
"It's truly galling for Londoners who are desperately trying to find somewhere to live. Our new measures make it clear that buy to leave is unacceptable. They make clear that new homes have to, at the very least, be lived in - I think that's a pretty reasonable thing to ask.”
The new rules will not affect existing homes but will include any properties built from now on. The Council will be seeking proof of occupancy via council tax records, energy bills and the electoral register.
Other councils may decide to adopt this rule, especially in areas where the demand for property is high and the increase in property value is great.
If you are considering purchasing an investment property in the capital, you may want to consider letting the property out so that you do not fall foul of occupancy rules. However, buy to let has its risks and you need to consider your options carefully.
For any legal advice around property purchase or sales please contact our Property Solicitors at Slater and Gordon UK. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9083 or contact us online and we will call you.