It has been said that there are around 50,000 empty homes across the city.” In some of London’s most wealthy suburbs the houses are left empty. Robert Booth reported that several mansions on The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, occasionaly trumpeted as the most expensive street in Great Britain, have been empty for over a quarter of a century. He also reported “Islington analysed electoral roll data for half a dozen new apartment buildings constructed since 2008 and found that, of the 587 dwellings, a third had no registered voter living in them or were marked as empty. For the Orchard Building, a block of 45 flats, 23 fell into that category.” Of the luxury One Hyde Park apartments in Knightsbridge that more than half the flats are registered with the council as empty or second homes. High vacancy rates are reported in Kensington.
There are many properties in London which are used for just a small amount of time each year. Several mansions on The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, occasionaly trumpeted as the most expensive street in Great Britain, are said to be used by their owners for short periods each year. Robert Booth spoke to one of the residents, Magdy Adib Ishak-Hannah, an Egypt-born doctor, who believed as few as three of the properties were occupied full-time.”
In some cases the properties have been left to decay. Several mansions on The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, occasionaly trumpeted as the most expensive street in Great Britain, have been empty for over a quarter of a century, some of them failing into ruin. In 2014 it was calculated that at least 120 bedrooms were empty in the vacant properties. The empty buildings included a row of 10 mansions which have stood largely unused since they were bought between 1989 and 1993. Robert Booth of the Guardian gained access to the properties and found water streaming down ballroom walls, ferns grow out of floors strewn with rubble from collapsed ceilings, owls living in the ceiling and pigeon and owl skeletons lie scattered across rotting carpets, gilded balustrades coated with a thick crust of bird roppings, Grecian columns cracking into pieces and mosaic-tiled swimming pools filled with rubble, crumbling stone fountains, lawns that have become bogs..
It is said that there are parts of London where most of the properties are left empty or not used very much, the consequence being that the streets are empty, with barely a foot touching the pavements in the evening or at weekend.
The purchasing of London housing by rich people who plan to stay in it for only a short period of time of to keep it empty works to hollow out London’s housing, make in uninhabitable and off-limits for those who live and work in London, essentially reducing the housing stock available to rent and buy, and inflating prices. Where the properties are allowed to fall into decay it is equivalent to buying-to-bulldoze.