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Tax Haven Money in London Real Estate


Author: Dr Rex McKenzie, Kingston University

The report details purchases of London’s residential property between 1999 and 2022, by owners registered in offshore tax haven jurisdictions. It focuses on estimates of the scale of these flows and considers the social and demographic consequences of this type of capital flow.

Main findings are:

A key motivation guiding offshore buyers of London’s real estate is its use as a pure investment. London’s homes are a store of value in the same way as safety deposit boxes are used to store value.

  1. Concentration – residential offshore owned properties are heavily concentrated in the City of London and in Westminster, which together account for 23% of all offshore properties in Greater London. The other area of concentration is Kensington and Chelsea accounting for 13% of all offshore-owned homes in London.
  2. There are far more properties held offshore than previously estimated. The report's analysis of offshore data moves beyond the basic number of titles to find 44,000 more properties than previously reported, making for a grand total of 138,000 offshore-owned properties in England and Wales.
  3. The dominant offshore centres funnelling money into London property were the British Overseas Territories & British Crown Dominions. This raises important questions relating to Britain's imperial past and the role of the former colonies in British economic life.
  4. We reveal that offshore investment has negatively affected hard-pressed and minority ethnic groups in London. These groups appear to have been pushed to the outer London boroughs.
  5. The residents and representatives of affected areas show a pervasive mistrust of local councillors who were responsible for key housing and planning decisions that privilege investment capital in their areas.
  6. We suggest the need for a progressive tax on offshore investment that could be used to offset the social costs induced by it in London and the UK more generally.
Tax Money in London's Real Estate front cover

17 November 2022

Tax Haven Money in London Real Estate