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June 21, 2006

Your Property is no Longer Your Own.

You will recall the recent addition to the law of the land, that if a place is empty for more than 6 months the local council can come in, seize it, stick some scrote in there (to the delectation of the neighbours of course), take whatever they like in administration expenses and then give you the remainder of whatever said scrote deigns to pay in rent.

Which will no doubt be well under market anyway.

They can also use their oh so efficient planning department and builders to repair it to make it fit for habitation: and you pay the bill. Wonderful, isn’t it?

The Last Ditch has a good look at the law here. Killer line:

It would be unconsitutional here in Russia, which is not exactly the gentlest state in the world

Anyway, like to know who is responsible for this destruction of property rights? This man. Tosser actually seems to be proud of it.

Note from this blog post of his that the rules don’t actually apply to housing already owned by the public sector. There’s only 140,000 of them so obviously, a trivial problem, not worth changing the law so that what is already owned by the tax payers is efficiently used, oooooh, no, far better to nick more stuff from private citizens.

A few more bright ideas like that and there’ll be nothing we can call our own anymore and won’t that be lovely?

June 21, 2006 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


This has got to the point where people like this Ireland character need to be strung up. Secure ownership of several property is the hallmark of a civilised state. Its uncompensated confiscation is tyranny, no more and no less.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 21, 2006 4:03:18 PM

Hayek....collectivism = totalitarianism

Posted by: Mark T | Jun 21, 2006 5:19:32 PM

It isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened. The Duke of Westminster resigned from the Tory party when that party's government passed a law allowing leaseholders to buy out their landlord even if the landlord didn't want to sell.

Posted by: Pete | Jun 21, 2006 5:46:24 PM

I remember hearing the Illiberal Democrats' housing spokesman calling for this sort of thing too.

So that's all three of the main parties behind illiberal measures.

No surprise there then.

Posted by: Bishop Hill | Jun 21, 2006 7:01:38 PM

I'm a Georgist. So, whilst this is not the way I would achieve the same end of bringing under- and unused property back into use, the principle that the community has a legitemate interest in real property like this is deeply rooted in liberal thought such as John Locke. But this is a truly bad way of doing it!

Posted by: Jock Coats | Jun 21, 2006 7:10:05 PM

SO why aren't the hundreds of empty Army and RAF houses up here being used to ease the problem?


Posted by: dave t | Jun 21, 2006 7:54:04 PM


Out of interest, precisely what's the difference between this order and any other form of compulsory purchase?

Morally, they're all as bad as each other - except that a not insignificant amount of infrastructure would not have been constructed without CP orders. The money doled out as compensation for the construction of the East Kilbride Expressway was still being drunk years later.

If the seizure is uncompensated, then that would be absolutely wrong - but Parliament is Parliament and will most often do what it bloody well likes without regard for private property whoever is in power.

And at least it doesn't seem to be as broad as the American position. 'Kelo -v- New London' authorised eminent domain seizure of private property for commercial use, with one of its stare decisis being that a commercial property may generate more in tax revenue than private dwellings.

If the seizures were commercial purposes, would the shouts of outrage be as loud?

Tim adds: Because there is no compensation. The asset is appropriated without paying for it.

Posted by: Martin | Jun 21, 2006 8:39:35 PM


As I understand it, the difference is that with a CPO the state forcibly purchases your property for whatever purpose it has in mind. All responsibility for that property then passes from the owner to the state.

These proposed seizures differ in that the original owner remains, theoretically, the owner of the property and may after seven years will get it back (after it has been turned into a cesspit by the ASBO families deposited therein). Doubtless the state will do its damnedest to ensure that the original owner remains responsible for costs (those "admin fees") and legal liability.

Like the "right to roam" act the government has discovered a way to appropriate your property in all but name, yet still leave you ultimately responsible and, probably, liable for anything that happens there.

Every day I am amazed at the fact that the British Government can make me just that little bit angrier than the day before. I passed what I thought in 1997 would be me fatal limit years ago and it still keeps on rising.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 22, 2006 10:45:55 AM

Property is a scarce resource and there's not enough of it to go around in the UK (at least not in the areas that people want to live and work). Under these circumstances, if a property is left unused this is in effect a failure of the market. Heavy-handed it may be, but this measure is designed to encourage property to be used - ie owners should either move in or let it out before the council come to claim it.

Because that may be uneconomic or inconvenient to the owner, it effectively becomes a tax on empty homes. It's a shame it's not just that: a straightforward tax on empty properties to encourage them to be put into use. At least that way it would not undermine ownership rights. I'm sure many would be against that too; afterall it's still more tax and more state intervention. But what's the alternative? Digging up even more countryside to build social housing?

Posted by: Bruce | Jun 22, 2006 12:44:03 PM

"If a property is left unused this is in effect a failure of the market."

Not necessarily. The central point is that it is not for the government to decide whether, if I own a property and choose not to use it for a while, it should be seized from me. I may leave my property vacant for six months to wait for the ideal buyer, or for some other project. The idea that the State should decide such a matter is monstrous. Does the government really have the intelligence to centrally plan every flat, house and bedsit in the land?

And arguing that because property is scarce, such seizures is justified, makes me wonder how far one would be prepared to go to correct such "market failure". Suppose I leave my home vacant for a fortnight. I am sure some folk currently looking for a roof over their heads could ask nice Mr Blair if I'd let them use it. I'd prefer to make that call myself, thanks.

In any event, if it is market failure one is worried about, one should recall that the sluggish nature of some property transactions is often the fault of regulations and taxes, not property owners. Scarcity like this usually means the market is not being allowed to work, not because of willful stupidity.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Jun 22, 2006 1:21:51 PM

And arguing that because property is scarce, such seizures is justified, makes me wonder how far one would be prepared to go to correct such "market failure".

Personally I always found the scarcity of gorgeous available women to be a market failure. Lets make them available for everyone who is in need.

No? You Surprise me.

Posted by: EU Serf | Jun 22, 2006 1:53:04 PM


Strangely enough there was a revolutionary soviet in one of the central asian republics that thought along very similar lines during the Russian Revolution. Apparently their logic was that the aristos and bourgeoisie had all the beautiful women and the only fair thing to do was nationalise them.

Apparently Moscow sent a bunch of chekisti to explain true revolutionary theory to them very quickly.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 22, 2006 4:18:48 PM

The guy Ireland seems really clever and his blog is extremely readable. I share Tim's commenters' principles, and agree that when government bodies seize private property the repercussions go beyond the particular toward the general discouragement of enterprise to accumulate said property.
BUT, the objections above voiced over the practicalities don't seem to be realistic. Ireland's blog is completely open to your arguments and he counters them pretty well - he's no jackbooted commissar.

This "...after it has been turned into a cesspit by the ASBO families deposited therein..." won't adhere a neutral to your case, either. Smacks of class, and implied race, hatred.
I live in a street that's half-council and half-private. In - gasp - Haringey. There have been 5 families moved in by Haringey in the last 5 years, and they're indistinguishable from the private occupants. Except that we (that's my house) probably has much more noisy arguments than anyone else.

Posted by: dave heasman | Jun 23, 2006 11:31:41 AM