(Adds details, background)
LONDON, Sept 29 London's mayor Sadiq Khan will
launch an inquiry into foreign ownership of property in the
British capital which has helped push up housing costs, the
Guardian newspaper cited him as saying on Thursday.
"It's clear we need to better understand the different roles
that overseas money plays in London's housing market, the scale
of what's going on, and what action we can take to support
development and help Londoners find a home," the Guardian quoted
Khan as saying.
"That's why we are commissioning the most thorough research
on this matter ever undertaken in Britain - the biggest look of
its kind at this issue - so we can figure out exactly what can
London property prices rose more than 12 percent in the 12
months to July after notching up annual gains of around 20
percent in mid-2014, according to official data.
The mayor's office has no powers over taxation of property
in the city.
The Guardian said Khan's inquiry would focus on the scale
and impact of different types of overseas investment in London
and consider how other major cities around the world are
tackling the problem.
"We welcome investment from around the world in building new
homes, including those for first-time buyers," he told the
newspaper. "At the same time, as more and more Londoners
struggle to get on the property ladder, there are real concerns
about the prospect of a surge in the number of homes being
bought by overseas investors."
Real estate firm Savills estimated in 2014 that overseas
purchases of property in London for investment purposes - rather
than foreign residents buying a home in which to live -
accounted for around 7 percent of all residential transactions
Khan said there was an urgent need for more transparency in
foreign investment. "Londoners need reassuring that dirty money
isn't flooding into our property market, and ministers must now
make all property ownership in London transparent so we can see
exactly who owns what," he said.
Last year, anti-corruption campaign group Transparency
International said nearly 200 million pounds ($260 million)of
money believed to be the proceeds of foreign corruption had been
spent on British properties since 2004 and that amount was
probably just the tip of the iceberg.
(Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison)