Saturday, Oct 17, 2009

Real life Monopoly: 1,000,000 empty properties

Guardian: Unoccupied, unloved: London mansions left to crumble by elusive offshore owners

Council official despairs at total of 1m empty homes in London and across the UK ... "When I was a boy I used to come up to London and see houses like these and think 'Wow. Who lives there?'" says Paul Palmer, gazing up at a pair of seven-storey mansions in Park Lane across the road from Hyde Park. "Now I know – no one. These are owned by two different companies registered at the same address in the British Virgin Islands. They haven't been occupied for at least seven years, apart from when the squatters were there in January."

Posted by quiet guy @ 01:57 PM (1392 views)
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1. mark wadsworth said...

Yet again, Land-Value-Tax-Man would ride to the rescue!

Either the owners would leave the properties empty, which is free money for the UK, or they'd do them up and rent them out or sell them. Which is a win-win scenario.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 01:59PM Report Comment

2. shipbuilder said...

Lol. Remember, your house is an investment.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 02:01PM Report Comment

3. shipbuilder said...

We need to keep these people in the country to spend their millions here. Remember that argument?

Saturday, October 17, 2009 02:04PM Report Comment

4. crunchy said...

1. mark wadsworth

Are these properties really owned or are they kept off the balance sheets financed by us whilst the bonuses still flow and the crash is still


"What makes his job difficult is that many of the biggest and most expensive are owned not by dusty old dowagers down on their luck but by mystery investors hiding their identities behind offshore companies."

Do you smell a rat.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 02:13PM Report Comment

5. cyril said...

if council tax was a bit higher they might think twice. My council tax is about £2000 for a tiny little house (75 sq m). So at that rate a 7 storey mansion in Park Lane should be at least £15 grand a year. But it's probably more like 3 or 4?

Saturday, October 17, 2009 02:44PM Report Comment

6. drewster said...


The top band of council tax in Westminster is £1375.24 a year. Westminster work hard to keep the rates low. It helps that the council has other large sources of revenue, e.g. council-owned car parks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 03:10PM Report Comment

7. dbc reed said...

They all jeered at Uncle Vince's mansion tax (in reality some extra bands on Council Tax).Middle England home-ownenists cheered themselves cross-eyed when Hezza he called such property owners ordinary middle -class families.
BTW a lot of the 1m empty houses on the Empty Homes Agency website look a touch derelict,so any value at all would lie in the sites (as it may well do for the run-down Mayfair properties).So ,as the man says ,all the more reason for Land Value Tax man to make an appearance.Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its a way of getting back all the national credit hedged into property,making this country and its capital too dear to live in.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 03:24PM Report Comment

8. mark wadsworth said...

@ Shipbuilder. "We need to keep these people in the country to spend their millions here. Remember that argument?"

1. An absentee landlord is not in the country, by definition.

2. Whatever your opinion of hedge fund managers is (I'm agnostic), they are leaving this country in droves to move to Switzerland, a) because Switzerland doesn't have a 50% top rate of tax and b) Despite the fact the Swiss have what amounts to an annual property value tax of 1%. That 1% tax doesn't affect immigrants because it depresses house prices in Switzerland, it's like part-funding your property with a compulsory interest-only non-repayable loan with an interest rate of 1%, which is waived in full when you sell your house again.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 03:31PM Report Comment

9. Brucemcaaw2009 said...

Why not double council tax for empty properties instead of offering an exception? Any one who owns a second home will be able to afford it any case and it will discourage people holding on to property and leaving it to rot. Empty properties are a blight on neighbourhoods so councils should charge the owner accordingly

Saturday, October 17, 2009 04:42PM Report Comment

10. nomad said...

They will become poor investments if there are so many of them - all becoming dilapidated.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 04:59PM Report Comment

11. enuii said...

The answer was contained in the following sentence; 'Both firms ignored multiple letters from Palmer asking them to explain why the buildings were unoccupied and threatening to issue a compulsory purchase order'.

There you are, compulsorily purchase them for a nominal fee through the courts and release them onto the market again.

If the investors sitting on them see that happening and the prospect of a flood of fresh properties coming onto the market and depressing the value of similar properties across the board then they will do their utmost to keep them 'occupied' one way or another.

House sitting may then be a rather nicer alternative to renting!

Saturday, October 17, 2009 08:07PM Report Comment

12. fallingbuzzard said...

I think there are 1 million properties that could do with compulsory purchasing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 09:24PM Report Comment

13. uncle tom said...


Do give your LVT theories a rest - you know it's not going to happen; so better to expend your energies on concepts that might have some chance of acceptance...

There are already some provisions in place to allow councils to deal with empty property, but as it requires so much procedural effort from the council, with hardly any reward at the end; hardly any councils are taking it seriously. That needs to change.

What is needed is:

1) A 100% surcharge on council tax for empty property as the default position - a council must be required to justify an alternate stance.

2) A provision that entitles a local council to charge substantial fees to the freeholder when processing an empty property.

If a council chief executive reckons that he charge more in fees than he needs to shell out on manpower, his instinct to empire build will know no bounds...!

Saturday, October 17, 2009 10:30PM Report Comment

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