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London Renters Union take action

In London, tenancies are short, disrepair is common, and rents are higher than almost anywhere in the world.

After just a few weeks of organising, London Renters Union members at Eros House flats in Catford took action to demand an end to evictions and for urgent safety and disrepair issues to be solved.

The steadfast residents of Eros House in Catford took action to demand an end to unsafe conditions and evictions in their homes. They delivered a letter, with lots of energy to Lewisham Council and one of the management companies that runs the tower block they live in. They were supported by LRU members and activists from Newham and across our city.

They’ve struggled with electrical hazards, serious damp and mould and faulty heating for too long – and some residents are facing eviction by the private company they rent from.

Amina and Michael, LRU

London Renters Union was set by a coalition including Radical Housing Network, Take Back The City, Generation Rent, Digs (Hackney Renters), and People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (PEACH). They’re currently building their first pilot branch in Newham and hope to have branches across the city by the end of 2018.

You can show your support for LRU members at Eros House by sharing the report back from today’s action on Twitter or Facebook:

The Tweet to retweet is at https://twitter.com/LDNRentersUnion/status/984081149050916864 .

The Facebook post to share is at https://www.facebook.com/LondonRentersUnion/posts/434286730327689 .

The full blog post with more info is at: http://londonrentersunion.org/2018/04/11/eros-house-letter-hand-in/

Hypo wot thecation? A blog post about tax

Tax by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

Hypothecation – I’d never hear about this before but it maybe of interest connected to issues around Land Value Tax and Land Uplift Capture or whatever else we are calling ways of preventing land speculators from profiteering these days…

The Responsible Tax Lab write:

The concept of hypothecation, where revenues from specific taxes would be ringfenced for a particular expenditure purpose – and publicly communicated in this way – has traditionally been unpopular with many. This is because of the notable challenges, relating to complexity, transparency, and public perceptions, with which it is associated. However, there is growing interest in how hypothecation could help engage with tax policy and increase public trust in the system.

Many people who call for a change in the way land is taxed also have called for the new tax income to be ring-fenced for using on connected issues. E.g. a land value tax going towards buying land for self build homes or re-commoning or supporting entrant farmers etc.

Anyways, here is an article written by the Head of Tax from PWC which goes into more depth! https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/could-health-and-social-services-be-safeguarded-by_uk_5a783496e4b0414342903948

 

 

Urban Right to Buy Developments in Scotland

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

An Aberdeen community have used new community buyout powers to claim a piece of private land as their own, becoming the first in Northern Scotland to utilise the Urban Right to Buy scheme. The land, that was once a bowls club, will be used as a community market garden and cafe.

http://www.scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk/articles/2720/

Scottish Land Commission publish discussion paper about diversifying land ownership

From Photochrom Prints Collection at the Library of Congress – Picture in the public domain

Scotland, as many know, is quite a few years ahead of England with land reform.

The Scottish Land Commission has just published a discussion paper by Peter Peacock about diversifying land ownership which is our recommended reading this week!

https://landcommission.gov.scot/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Land-Lines-Land-Ownership-Peter-Peacock-March-2018.pdf

Promo video for The Landlord’s Game

THE LANDLORD’S GAME: a tour of London’s land and housing crisis. Please share this wicked promo video via facebook or youtube and then come along on Saturday 14th April, Mayfair!

Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/154637835243225/

The impact of overseas corruption on the London property market

A summary of Faulty Towers: Understanding the impact of overseas corruption on the London property market by Transparency International UK (2018)

As well as providing homes, the UK property market has long been recognised for providing a reliable investment opportunity. Whilst much of this investment will be from genuine investors seeking a steady income, there is now substantial evidence to show that:

‘UK real estate, particularly in London, is attracting corrupt officials and businesspeople who have stolen money from some of the most impoverished and repressed countries in the world’ (p4).

Since 2015, Transparency International UK (TI UK) has been examining the potential impact this illicit wealth might be having on London through surveying Londoners and analysing open source data such as the Panama Papers, articles by investigative journalists and Land Registry data. In so doing, they reveal how people launder stolen money into the property market, often through the use of ‘anonymous’ companies registered overseas. These organisations cannot be found on a public register and leave few paper trails, allowing their owners to enjoy their gains without scrutiny.

The London housing crisis

In London, house price rises consistently outstrip wage increases, dozens of prospective buyers compete for a shrinking pool of affordable stock whilst rent prices rise ever higher. As a consequence, it is becoming more difficult to afford to stay in London for average people, with the Government admitting the UK housing system was ‘broken’ in February 2017.

Overseas investment is just one of a range of factors that may be driving the crisis. Others include the lack of social housing, increased domestic demand and the shortage of development land. But TI UK’s report reveals that corruption overseas is also likely to play a significant contributory role, albeit in some slightly unexpected ways.

Understanding overseas investment into property

A significant amount of illicit investment into the property market stems from individuals buying homes to launder corrupt funds to conceal its criminal origins. This cleanses large amounts of illicit wealth in a single transaction and provides the individual with a valuable asset. London property retains value and often offers almost certain profit, with prices rising even amidst uncertainty over Brexit in early 2016.14

Corrupt individuals also buy homes in London because they provide a bolt hole in case they fall out of favour in their home country. Buying mansions in sought after areas of London or in exclusive new build developments comes with status, helping corrupt individuals distance themselves further from past corruption offences a practice which can be described as ‘reputation laundering’.

Key findings

The London property market is highly vulnerable to corrupt wealth flowing into it. Analysis of open source material found over £4.2 billion worth of properties bought with suspicious wealth.

Corruption causes high levels of instability abroad leading to ‘crisis capital’ being placed in safe havens like London. Since 2006 around £100 billion of hidden inflows have entered the UK.

House prices are affected as illicit wealth and crisis capital entering the UK increase demand in the London housing market, particularly at the top-end; ‘the ripple effects they generate resonate across London’,

New build developments are built targeting wealthy international investors and are not meeting demand for affordable homes. In 14 landmark London developments almost 40 per cent of future homes were bought by those from high corruption risk jurisdictions.

London’s role as a global safe haven is resulting in homes being purchased and not used. Areas with higher levels of property owned by anonymous companies also have high levels of abnormally low electricity usage; an indicator for empty or underused homes.

Young people are moving out of London in record numbers due to the cost of housing. Over half of Londoners responding to our survey said wealthy overseas investors are causing house prices to rise and more than 1 in 5 believed money laundering was a motivating factor for overseas investment.

Transparency International UK warns that if these issues are not addressed, corruption abroad will continue to have a negative impact on the London housing market.

Recommendations

The report’s findings pose a problem for policy makers: how can you ensure the property market is not distorted by corruption overseas without unintentionally excluding innocent investors, many of whom might be seeking to escape from tyranny and instability in their home?

Transparency International UK makes the following recommendations to the UK government:

  • Introduce greater transparency to the property market
  • Reform the UK’s anti-money laundering system
  • Retain tackling global corruption as a key priority

If these recommendations are followed, says TI UK, the negative impact overseas corruption inflicts on the people of London and its property market will be reduced and the UK’s role as a safe haven for illicit wealth will be diminished.

The Landlord’s Game: A tour of London’s land & housing crisis

Join us for a walking tour of London’s land and housing crisis on Saturday 14th April 2018, 1pm-4pm. START 1pm Brown Hart Gardens on Duke St, nr Bond St Tube W1K 6TD.

Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/154637835243225/

London faces a housing crisis of epic proportions, with homelessness rife, house prices sky-high and many people unable to afford a home.

At root, the housing crisis is a land crisis. London is home to millions of people – but the land on which it’s built is effectively monopolised by a handful of wealthy estates.

Join us for a tour of some of the most expensive locations on the Monopoly board: places that Dukes and Earls inherited as fields hundreds of years ago, but now – thanks to a lucky roll of the dice – is some of the hottest super-prime real estate on the planet.

It’s time for change. The Land Justice Network has organised this tour to showcase some of the root causes of London’s land and housing crisis – and call for reform.

Along our route, you’ll see Mayfair mansions left empty for nearly 15 years, discover properties owned in offshore tax havens, and find out the truth about who owns London – and what we can do about it.

National gathering in March

Come to Land Justice Network’s next national gathering to celebrate the start of our Week of Action on Land Rights, discuss what the network’s been up to and plot fresh actions together!

We’ll meet up 12 noon to eat lunch together (bring a dish if you can) and start the meeting at 1pm, finishing 4pm with optional social time at a nearby pub afterwards.

Facebook event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/169320923865119/

If you need financial support so you can make it to the event please drop us an email at landjusticeuk@gmail.com

Friends of the Earth offices, The Printworks, 139 Clapham Road, London, SE1 0DG

Did the Mayor of London just say what I think he said?

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan joins calls for the government to make all property ownership in London transparent.

In particular, he urges the government to speed up plans for a new public register of the beneficial ownership of foreign companies that own UK property.

Roughly 44% of all the UK properties owned by overseas registered companies are located in London, according to recent research from the Land Registry.

Khan believes that in order to help prevent offences such as tax evasion and theft, the ownership of UK property should be more transparent.

Go to the original tweet.