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Miliband pledges to combat 'ghost homes'

Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced plans for a crackdown on so-called 'ghost homes' that are hoarded by wealthy investors across London and other parts of the UK.In his latest proposals to reform the UK's housing market, Mr Miliband said he would close loopholes that allow absentee owners to put in a few items of furniture and thereby avoid paying the council tax premium.   He also pledged to bring in legislation to ensure developers sell new properties in domestic markets at same time as overseas ones.If the Labour Party wins the 2015 election, councils could be given powers to double the amount of tax levied on homes that lie empty and unused for one year. This year, the average council tax bill is £1,296.44 for a band-D home in London.Councils are already able to impose a 50 per cent surcharge on properties that have been empty for two years or more and Mr Miliband's proposals constitute a toughening of these rules."We've got to stop this phenomenon of empty properties being bought by overseas investors and nothing done about it," Mr Miliband said."We live in one of the richest, most diverse and exciting cities that has ever existed on the planet, but the connection between the great wealth London creates and everyday family finances has been broken."The Labour leader pointed out that average house prices in the capital have reached £363,000 and could rise to £500,000 by 2018. He added that rents rose by nine per cent last year and now stand at a record average of £1,200 a month.Mr Miliband said high prices are increasingly creating barriers for ordinary people looking to find a home. The Labour leader has already pledged to intervene in the rental market to ensure a fairer deal for tenants and provide support for "generation rent".Islington Council recently launched a discussion paper to tackle the problem of empty homes, which make up half of recent developments in some postcodes. 

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