Inside the Derelict Mansions of London's Billionaires Row

18th February 2014 posted in Home Lifestyle

Billionaires' Row in North London is home to some of the most sought after properties in Britain and is the second most expensive street in the entire country.

Though this street may conjure images of grandeur and elegance, the reality is that a third of the mansions housed on Billionaires' Row actually stand empty and many have even fallen victim to serious neglect.

An investigation carried out by the Guardian has found that there are approximately £350m worth of empty properties currently sat on the esteemed street, more commonly known as "The Bishops Avenue".

Some of the mansions have become derelict due to external elements such as water damage and plant growth, with crumbling walls and ceilings and fern covered spiral staircases leading from one ruined landing to another. Many of the houses have become so bad that piles of rubble can be found alongside bird poo and even animal carcasses..


Ten of the empty mansions are apparently owned by members of the Saudi royal family and were bought back in the early nineties to be used as boltholes when they needed to escape from the turmoil in the Middle East during Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

Another of the properties is currently on sale for a huge £65million and was originally built for the founder of Tate and Lyle. It has a whopping 14 bedrooms and like many of the houses lies unoccupied and at a price most people in the UK could never afford.

The majority of the houses are owned by rich foreigners who spend some of their time in the country and use the houses as a base. Others are owned as a second home for residents to visit on occasion, but many say they don't stay long due to a lack of community around the area.

It is a truly sad state of affairs with so many of these splendid houses being up for sale when so few people could really afford to buy them. This then encourages the trend of royals overseas purchasing them and leaving them empty for much of the year.

A property developer who is currently helping to renovate some of the buildings told the Guardian:

"Not many true local residents live on the road. It is the likes of the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Brunei. They buy a property and don't do anything with it."

There are currently over 700,000 empty properties in the country, but politicians are completely divided on how this could actually help solve the current housing shortage crisis - a problem which is growing by 100,000 houses a year.

The fact that so many of these multimillion pound houses are lying unkempt and unlived in could really help fuel the Help to Buy debate. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, recently called for higher council tax for property owners who do not live in and also fail to rent out their home for two years or more.