Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would give local authorities the power to reclaim luxury properties that are left deliberately empty in an attempt to solve the UK’s housing crisis.
Corbyn said it was just one of a number of ways the party planned to intervene in the market.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show he said: “We would give local authorities the power to take over deliberately left vacant properties.”
He claimed there are areas in a lot of housing stress that have luxury blocks of flats built and sold off plan to overseas investors.
“Let’s look at the social priorities here.”
The Labour leader has previously called for the empty homes of the rich in Kensington to be requisitioned to house survivors of the deadly Grenfell tower fire.
Other ways Labour intends to solve the housing crisis include building council properties with life time tenancies at secure rent; greater regulation of the private rented sector; and a government-backed mortgage scheme for first-time buyers.
Corbyn also said the party will buy up to 8,000 houses for the homeless if it were to get into power.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveal 4,751 people were sleeping rough in 2017 – the highest figure in the eight years rough sleeping has been tracked.
Labour said if it wins power it would seek to buy up housing association properties when they become vacant and hand them to homeless people, instead of making them available again as affordable homes.
The housing association properties would then be replaced in a wider house building programme.
Labour’s manifesto claimed it will build 100,000 “genuinely affordable” homes for renting and buying each year.
“The problem is homeless people, rough sleepers, beg to get money for a night shelter, stay in the night shelter or a hostel. The problem then is move on accommodation, the problem then is not having an address, without which they can’t get a job or claim benefits,” he said.
He added: “There is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build a luxury block… deliberately keep it empty knowing that with property price inflation the investor is going to make 10% or 12% a year… maybe a bit less but they are going to make a fair amount out of it. Surely we have to have a social objective and a social priority in our society.”
DealMakerz thinks Corbyn’s ideas could get a lot of support, particularly after recent figures revealed more than half of nearly 2,000 luxury properties built in London last year remain unsold.
The flats, complete with private gyms, swimming pools and cinema rooms, are lying empty as hundreds of thousands of would-be first-time buyers struggle to find an affordable home.
But where the money will come from to buy and reclaim flats is another matter – not to mention the lengthy and convoluted legal disputes that could arise.