Action on Empty Homes invited London-based housing campaigners to an event to discuss how to challenge the development of wealth investment in the London property market that is leaving the capital with thousands of homes empty at a time of deepening housing crisis.

We asked two questions of the housing campaigners and activists attending:

What do we do about Buy to Leave investment in London? 

How should the GLA Mayor-elect in May 2020 tackle the issue?

Date   Thursday 17 October 2019

Time  19:00 - 21:00

Place  Action on Empty Homes, 200a Pentonville Road, London N1 9JP

This event is part of a project that aims to develop a publication and policy statements about wealth investment in London that can be fed into the upcoming GLA elections and Mayoral campaign. 

We are looking to housing campaigners and other activists who have concerns about London housing policy to give us their views about how the GLA Mayor should approach the problem.

Wealth investment in the London property market, as in other international cities, takes many forms. We want to provide a space where a collaborative discussion can take place to get a collective sense of the size and shape of the problem, and solutions to it.

The forms of wealth investment we are looking at are:

  1. High-end buy to leave investment. Properties developed purely as a store of wealth by global wealthy investors. Properties are left empty to maintain resale value over time in the expectation of asset appreciation. There is an estimated 2,000 plus in the capital, with the number growing by the month.
  2. Second-home investments. There are some 46,000 thousand ‘notional’ second homes in London recorded in Government data. Many may be either unoccupied wealth stores or empty homes re-categorised. Some could be short-term rental investments. There is a significant grey area between ‘empty’ and ‘second’ categories allowing for both tax avoidance and evasion. 
  3. The blight of Airbnb style rental in the capital. It is estimated 50,000 entire homes are being advertised for rent. On Airbnb alone, there are 75,000 London lettings advertised, with over half being whole homes, several other platforms for such rentals exist. London is reported to have the largest short-term rental market of any European city.

Action on Empty Homes believes it reasonable to estimate there is a minimum of 100,000 unoccupied and under-occupied homes in London.

If you would like to have a chat about this programme of work, which is supported by Trust for London, or want to contribute to what we are hoping to achieve, please call Chris Bailey on 020 7832 5808.