Fines or jail terms could await Islington property investors who deliberately leave their houses or flats vacant so they can make money from property value increases reports the Guardian.

Islington Borough Council – the most densely populated local authority area in the country – says owners could face high court injunctions if homes are left vacant for more than three months.

Unless owners can prove their properties are occupied, they could face fines, repossession or in the most extreme cases, jail – according to the council.

30 per cent of 2,000 properties built in the last six years have no one on the electoral register, the north London authority revealed on December 4. In five of the most recent developments, this figure is around 25 per cent – even when overseas tenants and students are discounted.

“Buy to Leave”?

According to the article under the new proposals, owners must prove properties are occupied by providing recent council tax and utility bills, correspondence from health services, social services and education providers. They may even have to demonstrate that homes are fully furnished.

The term “buy to leave” is increasingly used to describe investors who have little or no intention of renting a property out – and who are only waiting for the value to rise so they can sell for a profit.  The article cites Seb Klier, Generation Rent’s policy and campaigns manager as saying: “If we are really serious about helping first-time buyers we have to take punitive action against those who see housing as an investment asset only.”

Protecting vacant properties

How this could affect the property prices in the area for those trying to sell their properties is unknown.  However there will always be genuine unoccupied houses waiting sale or let and in such circumstances, it is important to ensure the property in question is properly insured whilst vacant. Specialist unoccupied property insurance from can be taken out as buildings-only cover, or as buildings with contents and other features can also be added.  So why not get a quote online today or call us for more information.