London’s Ghost Homes (the surprising secret behind the bubble)

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Buzzmove Ghost Homes Kensington and Chelsea Empty Houses Street Londons Ghost Homes (the surprising secret behind the bubble)

Londoners will hardly be strangers to the baffling figures of the rise in property costs in the capital in the past five years or so. While this increase is nation-wide, the UK’s political centre has been hit the hardest. The ONS  states that since the start of 2008, national house prices have risen by 4.4% while London’s house prices have risen by a whopping 27.6%. Bedroom tax increases and welfare reductions have hit struggling city dwellers hard and made finding affordable housing the latest route of the rat race.

And yet, in the midst of the housing crisis, almost 1% of London homes are empty, with 2.02% in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea (seen above). This figures were published by the charity Homes from Empty Homes based on the number of properties registered as ‘empty’ to local councils in 2013. These figures do not include homes unfit for living, homes due to be demolished and flats above shops (which are charged under business rates, rather than council tax, despite being designed for living in). It is estimated that the total of empty homes in Great Britain would be over 1 million if these were included.

Buzzmove Ghost Homes Islington Cheap Rent Flat Londons Ghost Homes (the surprising secret behind the bubble)

This seems striking when there are 1 in 10 Londoners are on council housing waiting lists (Guardian) and 6,437 people (Crisis) are recorded as having slept rough on London streets in 2013 alone (a 62% rise in two years). This helps to explain why the property above earnt the agents advertising it an interested enquiry after just 16 hours despite the £737 per month flat having to be removed from the market by Islington’s executive member for housing, James Murray, for being illegally small. The apartment flauted the national regulations requiring single person flats to have a floor space of at least 19 ft squared. The recently re-elected Labour councilman expressed his dismay at the current situation; “the problem is that people are getting squeezed by high private rent prices and the lack of affordable housing, so you get landlords who are in a position to exploit people” (Evening Standard).

Yesterday George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Coalition government, has called for a clamp-down on ‘buy-to-leave’ investors with a 15% stamp duty on the purchase of any property over £500,000 ( ; this is a drastic reduction from the £2 million threshold originally set in 2012. This change is set to happen gradually, with a £7,000 fee for properties between £1 million and £2 million as the first step.

Buzzmove Ghost Homes George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer Budget 2014 Londons Ghost Homes (the surprising secret behind the bubble)

However, his position has come under scrutiny from industry experts who feel that this will punish those looking to upsize on their current London properties while failing to disincentivise international property moguls. Leading voices at rightmove and Cluttons have both voiced concerns over the efficacy of the Chancellor’s policy; stating that London still remains one the better locations for property investments in Europe and the World and the fee is small pittance for those with the means to keep these ghost homes “held in corporate envelopes to avoid stamp duty” (

An alternate approach has already been taken in Camden. The Labour Party councillors, who dominate the politics of the district, have opted to take advantage of the legislation allowing for a 150% council tax on empty properties. Since its adoption in 2012, Labour councilmen state that the number of abandoned properties has gone down by 35%. So impressed was Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party, that he has adopted the policy into his manifesto for the upcoming 2015 General Election (The Independent). This initiative joins that of the Labour proposed ban on estate agents marketing London properties to international buyers before the British public have the opportunity to buy (BBC).

With such diverse approaches being taken from British politicians it becomes difficult to see a way out of the current situation. The housing bubble seems unlikely to shrink or pop anytime soon leaving commuters, inner city dwellers and the future professionals sitting in University staring blankly at the predicted 23.1% house price rise predictions (Savills).

If you are looking to move to London or are escaping the rapidly rising figures; head to now to book your removal company. We give instant, exact quotes from trusted companies so that you do not have to worry about hidden costs on the day. Finding the right home for you is stressful enough as it is, let us take care of taking you there.

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