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Industry body demands action over scandal of ‘buy to leave’

Action is needed to tackle the scandal of ‘buy to leave’ investors who are denying Londoners the homes they need, according to an industry body.

The Residential Landlords’ Association says with almost 57,000 homes in the capital thought to be empty, the next Mayor of London needs to use the powers available to ensure such homes are being used either by landlords who want to offer properties to live in or are available to for purchase by would be home owners.

It says that while ministers have introduced a wide number of tax changes designed to hit those purchasing additional property, many of these will not affect overseas investors who traditionally buy homes then leave them empty.

The RLA’s ‘Manifesto for London’ calls also for new ways to enforce the large number of powers available to councils to protect tenants from criminal landlords and for greater efforts to free up small plots of unused land across London for the development of homes to rent the capital desperately needs.

According to an analysis by the accountants PwC, around 60 per cent of Londoners will be in private rented housing by 2025. The RLA is calling for the new Mayor to work positively with landlords to ensure that these homes are safe, legal and secure by encouraging good landlords to develop new homes.

“The next Mayor needs to use all the powers they have to stamp out this [buy to leave] practice, and encourage good, decent landlords to provide the homes to rent Londoners need” says David Smith, policy director for the association.

“The majority of landlords provide decent homes to their tenants and are as keen as anyone else to root out the crooks often preying on vulnerable people. The next Mayor should work positively with them rather than seeing them as a problem to be dealt with.”

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