A string of oligarchs, foreign royalty and multimillionaire businesspeople have been revealed as the owners of vacant properties in the borough where the deadly Grenfell Tower fire left scores of people homeless.
The names were revealed in a list that appears to have been ‘accidentally’ sent by the council to multiple recipients.
Owners of the 1,652 properties listed as unoccupied by Kensington and Chelsea Council include a Ukrainian billionaire fighting extradition to the US, a former mayor of New York, a high-profile luxury property developer and a senior television executive.
More than a third of the vacant homes (603) are recorded as having been empty for more than two years, with the owners paying a 50% premium on their council tax. A further 1,010 are classified as unoccupied and substantially unfurnished, while the other 39 have been unoccupied for less than a year, with building work in progress.
Under British law there is no way to reclaim a home just because it is empty. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said Kensington proprieties should be “requisitioned” for Grenfell survivors, and said at the very least it illustrates the gulf between the area’s wealthy and its poor.
Michael Bloomberg, United States – New York mayor Michael Bloomberg purchasing it for £16m in 2015
The former mayor of New York City is probably the most famous name on the list.
Bloomberg was given an honourary knighthood in 2014. He has called London his “second home” and has been repeatedly mooted as a potential mayor.
Billionaire businessman and political giant Bloomberg can count former England and Arsenal footballer Sol Campbell as a new neighbour.
Christian Candy, Property Developer
The controversial property developer, one of the two Candy brothers, was also named on the list.
The Guardian said his company, Dukes Lodge London Ltd, owns 26 homes in a 1930s apartment building. A spokesman said the buildings are being refurbished and are currently uninhabitable.
The developer plans to demolish the existing seven-storey mansion block in Holland Park and replace it with five interlinked villas, including a two-floor basement and underground parking, although this has yet to be approved by the council’s planning department.
Duke’s Lodge mansion block, which used to house 26 flats, is owned by an offshore firm that is part of Christian Candy’s luxury property business.
DMZ has argued that there is a fine line between continuing foreign investment into the UK capital and leaving these houses empty.
Even in a post-Brexit world, the majority of foreign investors see the UK as a safe haven for their investments, viewing property through the eyes of a portfolio manager rather than a typical buyer. The general public in London continue to be priced out of more and more areas; we argue that, rather than the crudely implemented stamp duty hike for foreign buyers, there needs to be a clearer policy set on the sheer volume of empty homes in the capital.