Dealing With Vacant Mansions in London

In a posh borough of London, empty homes are causing problems for officials, who are tasked with finding the owners of these vacant or abandoned mansions.
July 17, 2009, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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The affluent neighborhood has one of the highest rates of vacancy. Though most are still owned, the homeowners are notoriously bad about maintaining these properties.

"Unlike people facing foreclosures in other neighborhoods around the world, Mayfair's homeowners aren't down on their luck. Rather, the properties serve as investments for owners who pay the bills to keep them empty -- something the neighbors and city object to when the homes fall into disrepair. Many owners decline to rent the homes due to local council tax rules, which tax properties at a lower rate if they are empty and unfurnished. That loophole frustrates Mr. Palmer. 'We shouldn't be rewarding these people,' he says."

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Published on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 in The Wall Street Journal
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