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Islington Council adopts pioneering rules to stop buy to leave

Islington Council last night adopted pioneering new planning measures that require new homes in the borough to be regularly occupied in a bid to stop the rise of so-called "buy-to-leave" properties.

In recent years there have been concerns that a significant amount of new homes in Islington, as in other parts of London, are sold off-plan to investors, some of whom then leave the properties empty as investments.

This practice, commonly referred to as "buy-to-leave", means the new housing is in effect "wasted supply" that does not help Islington meet its housing need or offer people a place to live.

Last night (Thursday 16 July) Islington Council's executive agreed to adopt a new supplementary planning document (SPD) to prevent wasted housing supply.

The new SPD will put an obligation on the owners of new homes not to leave their properties empty for longer than three months.

If a property is lived in for less than two weeks every three months the council could take action including ultimately seeking an injunction from the High Court against the owner.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said: "Islington, like 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 planning rules will be applied to new homes and will not affect existing homes.

To read the SPD please see http://democracy.islington.gov.uk/documents/s4988/Appendix%201%20-%20Preventing%20Wasted%20Housing%20Supply%20SPD%20July%202015.pdf