Labour slams Tories over 'Billionaires Row' vacant homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Regulation
Labour has accused the Tory-led coalition of hitting the poorest with the bedroom tax whilst allowing billionaires to get away with leaving mansions to rot.
An investigation by the Guardian last week found that a third of the homes on The Bishops Avenue in North London - known as 'Billionaires Row' - are lying empty, with many of them abandoned for up to a quarter of a century and rotting away.
According to the Guardian, £350 million worth of property is currently vacant on the street. Many of the homes are believed to be owned by foreign investors.
London's Clive Betts MP, chair of the Commons communities and local government select committee, said: "People can claim to do what they want with the property they own, but how must those living in cramped and poor accommodation feel when they see some of the most palatial, beautiful, properties with incredible amounts of space going to waste?
"This is a government obsessed by under-occupation of two-bed council houses in London occupied by people with nowhere else to go. But in the same city you have mansions unoccupied with no action being taken."
Mayor Boris Johnson recently called for London's local authorities to follow the lead of Camden Council and increase council tax on long-term empties to 150%.
Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds said: "With the country in the midst of the biggest housing crisis in a generation, at its worst in London, it is a scandal that overseas investors are buying London homes as piggybanks with no intention of living in them.
"Labour would crack down on empty home loopholes and give councils proper powers to tackle buy-to-leave where overseas investors buy up properties and then leave them empty."
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “We’ve supported councils so they can tackle the blight of empty homes on their streets. This includes our reforms on council tax flexibilities and the new empty homes premium, which now allows councils to remove the special tax subsidies being given to empty homes and instead use the funding to keep the overall rate of council tax down and support front-line services.
“All our measures mean that since 2010 over 40,000 properties have been brought back into use and councils have been rewarded through the New Homes Bonus.”