British home owners who leave houses empty to make money from price rises face jail and fines.
Owners of newly built homes will be required to prove they are occupied under tough new proposals from a London council, the Guardian reported Friday.
They face fines, repossession or imprisonment if they leave homes vacant for more than three months.
The north London borough of Islington said 30 percent of 2,000 homes built in the past six years have nobody on the electoral register.
Even when students and foreign tenants are discounted, close to a quarter of homes in five of the newest residential developments appear to be empty, the report said.
Owners will have to prove they are not “buy-to-leave” investors by showing up-to-date utility and council tax bills, evidence of deliveries, registration documents for health services, schools and social services, and prove the homes are fully furnished.
“Our new proposals would make sure that all new homes in Islington are occupied. We want to send a message that ‘buy-to-leave’ is unacceptable,” said councilor James Murray, the council’s executive member for housing.
The proposal was warmly welcomed by campaigners against empty homes but is likely to be fiercely opposed by property developers.
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