Why is London Filled with Empty Homes?

London is one of the most desirable locations on the planet, so why are there so many empty properties in the UK capital? We take a closer look at the facts.

 

London is the largest economic centre on the planet, is home to more than 8.5 million people, and has an average property price of more than £617k, yet many of its properties are currently sitting unoccupied.

 

As of late 2018, it was estimated the number of empty houses in London to be 20,237, which seems bizarre given that the demand is stronger than ever and the population continues to rise, predicted to exceed 9 million by 2020.

 

So, just why aren’t these houses being lived in? We take a closer look at the reasons for this strange phenomenon that seems so at odds with the bustling, crowded and economically booming capital.

 

A Surplus of Luxury Apartments

 

To the chagrin of the ordinary working Londoner, a large slice of the empty homes in the capital are in the high end, luxury penthouse / apartment category.

 

Developers, both from the UK and abroad, see opportunity in inexpensive land, buy up and pump their remaining budget into creating luxurious, highly profitable residences. The problem is that the demand for these types of properties isn’t nearly as high as the demand for regular, ordinary places to set up home.

 

Working families and young people are unable to afford these sprawling multi million pound apartments, and they’re not really designed for such clientele anyway.

 

On top of this, 1 in 5 of these luxury homeowners is from overseas, meaning that they’re less likely to spend extended periods of time in the capital. Many apartments have also been also bought as second homes, and their owners spend the majority of their time elsewhere.

 

Derelict & Abandoned Buildings

 

There are several empty homes in London that have simply fallen by the wayside, and with no funding to get them back to being suitable for living in, they remain empty for sometimes years at a time. This often happens as a result of over-enthusiastic developers.

 

They may have been bought in the 1990s, when London properties sold for less than quarter of the current average asking price, and over the years development and maintenance costs skyrocketed to the point where these developers couldn’t afford to take the risk on fixing them up.

 

There are countless warehouses, schools, unfinished constructions, even entire blocks of flats that are sitting derelict and abandoned, with their owner just waiting for the price to rise enough to make a profitable sell. Meanwhile, London is now a place where inhabitants are forced to fit their whole lives into as little as 13 square metres, and renters are now outnumbering homeowners… It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

 

What we need is innovative, imaginative and human-focused property development from contractors with a conscience. If you’re passionate about transforming London’s property landscape, get in touch today to arrange an informal consultation.

 


Prefabricated Vs Bespoke Designs

Making the choice between prefabricated and bespoke designs for your property can be challenging - check out the pros and cons of each to make an informed decision. Whether you want to expand on an existing property business, invest in a new venture, or build a second home, the early stages of decision-making opens up two design avenues that you can go down: prefabricated and bespoke. In this article, we’ll take a look at these two types of building and explore the pros and cons of each.

 

Prefabricated Buildings

 

Prefabricated (‘prefab’) designs, or ‘modular homes’ as they are often referred to, are essentially designed and pre-made away from the intended build site. They tend to be built in separate sections and floors that can be easily transported and then assembled quickly on-site.

 

For some people the idea of prefabricated house designs harks back to the prefab houses on wheels of the 1920s, but this trend has continued over the decades and is still going strong today, with technological innovations helping to give prefabs more streamlined, efficient designs than ever before.

 

If you’re interested in developing your property empire with prefabrication designs, it’s good to be aware of their benefits and drawbacks:

 

Pros:

  • Efficient use of time and labour
  • Reduces waste and environmental damage compared with conventional builds
  • Cost-effective
  • Remote construction means less dependency on weather
  • Easy to modify later on
  • Improved insulation and acoustics

 

Cons:

  • Aesthetic amendments are limited
  • Durability tends to be reduced
  • Transportation logistics can be a challenge
  • More homogenous designs
  • Fire and safety can be slightly more of an issue

 

 

 

Bespoke Buildings

 

Bespoke, specialist designs make it possible for contractors to create the exact building they need to fit their specific requirements. Control every element of the building, from the initial blueprints right through to the internal colour scheme, and make the property you envisioned from the start come to life.

 

Customised homes are not a new phenomenon; designers and contractors alike have enjoyed the flexibility bespoke builds give them, enabling them to express their personal tastes and create a space that is tailored for a specific lifestyle.

 

Having total control over every element of your property’s design is, for many contractors, the best way to go, but bespoke design has its drawbacks as well - check out our pros and cons for a full overview.

 

Pros:

  • Space and dimensions tailored to specific needs
  • More efficient timewise vs conventional construction
  • All-in-one price - easier to budget
  • Seamlessly incorporate with existing structures
  • Lots of eco-friendly solutions available
  • Quality and durability guarantee

 

Cons:

  • Expensive - high initial cost
  • Easy to go over budget
  • Time-consuming
  • Certain features may be missed / not included
  • At the mercy of fluctuating costs and supply

 

 

As you can see, both prefabricated and bespoke designs offer a range of both advantages and disadvantages - whether you’re a contractor or property developer, the choice is entirely down to your personal situation. Need advice on making your property venture a success? Speak to a reputable advisor to ensure you’re making the right decision for you.


Breakdown of Section 21

Section 21 is the official notice of eviction - here we’ll provide an overview and breakdown of everything the notice covers for both landlords and tenants. As a landlord or tenant, it’s important to know the principles of a legal eviction. The eviction process begins with the Section 21 notice, which is a notice issued to tenants who are under an AST (assured shorthold tenancy). Section 21 differs slightly from Section 8: the former is used to evict tenants who have come to the end of their contract; the latter is when tenants have actually breached the terms of the contract.

 

When to Issue Section 21

 

There are two situations in which Section 21 is applicable:

  • When a fixed period tenancy contract reaches its end
  • At some point during a periodic (i.e.no fixed period) tenancy

 

In certain situations, Section 21 is not valid if:

  • The tenancy only began within the past 4 months
  • The fixed period of time outlined in the tenancy agreement hasn’t reached its end yet (barring any additional clauses that negate this)
  • The property in question is ‘a house in multiple occupation’ (known as HMO) and without an official council-issued license
  • The tenancy began post-2007 and the landlord has failed to keep the deposits in a protection scheme
  • The tenancy began post-October 2015 and no Form 6A (another name for Section 21) or equivalent letter has been issued
  • The local council has plans for the property to improve or do emergency maintenance work on it (if either or both of these is true, a notice will be issued by the council)
  • The landlord owes fees / deposits to the tenant
  • Correct guides and certificates haven’t been issued to the tenant (see full list on the Section 21 government page)

 

Notice to Give Before Section 21

 

In order for Section 21 to be valid, it must always be issued with at least 2 months notice period for the tenants. This means they have 2 months to get their affairs in order and arrange moving out.

 

If you’re dealing with a periodic / non-fixed tenancy, tenants are permitted to stay in the property for the remainder of the time covered by their most recent rental payment.

 

What Happens After Section 21?

 

Once a Section 21 notice has been issued, a landlord needs to record and keep evidence by:

  • Filling in an N215 form
  • Ensuring your name and the date of issue are written clearly on the Section 21 document

 

If there is any difficulty getting the tenants to leave the property by the allocated time, your N215 form can be used to get things moving with an accelerated order of possession.

 

What is Section 8?

 

We’ve touched on it earlier, but here’s Section 8 in a little more detail. Section 8 is similar to Section 21, except it is a notice for seeking possession of a property.

 

This applies when the terms of the tenants’ contract have been broken, and the landlord wishes to repossess the house as soon as possible. Section 8 can have a notice period of anything between 14 days and 2 months, depending on how the contract has been breached.

 

If you can’t get the tenants to leave by the date specified, there is also the option to apply through a court for an order of possession.

 

If in doubt about your legal rights as a landlord or a tenant, get in touch with a professional property solicitor for advice and guidance.