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Pollution website hotspots could impact house prices

A new air pollution tool encourages London house-hunters to cut property prices

air pollution

A new website has launched which details air pollution levels for each postcode in London.

The site, called addresspollution.org, uses data from King’s College London to give the level of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas released when diesel, petrol and gas are burnt, for every postcode in the capital.

Check air pollution for your postcode

The free report generated with a click gives the annual average levels of air pollution at an address and the damage long term exposure can do to human health. It also makes it clear if the property exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual legal limit for clean air.

Posh Pollution

According to the World Health Organization, there is no healthy level of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), but anything above 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) breaches the legal limit of NO2 – making it illegal.

On the addresspollution.org site this would be ranked as ‘significant’ and be shown to lead to an 11% increased risk of disease related mortality.

London neighbourhoods that rank at this level include The Mall, Notting Hill and Regent’s Park, home to famous names including the royal family, David Beckham and Daniel Craig.

The Central Office of Public Interest (COPI), the not-for-profit campaign behind the website, is targeting these areas with billboards that have messages like ‘Location, Location, Lung Disease’ and ‘These houses cost an arm, leg and lung’.

Property prices could plummet

According to the COPI, property prices could plummet in the most polluted areas as a result of home buyers being able to check pollution levels.

Chelsea house prices could be crunched by £256,416, in Tower Hamlets by £66,419 and in Islington by £146,359.

The price plummet estimates follow findings that show a resounding 76% of Londoners would expect some discount to be applied to properties available to rent or buy in areas that breach legal limits for air pollution and are likely to have a negative impact on occupants’ health.

Estate agents are also positive about the site. Mark Hayward, of the National Association of Estate Agents, commented: “Estate agents are legally obliged to declare material issues that could affect the price of a house to a buyer. The current legal argument about air pollution goes that it isn’t a material issue so does not need to be flagged to buyers.

This argument just does not hold up when we know that disease related mortality increases in areas of significant air pollution. This needs to be addressed and I am urging estate agents to lead the change and begin sharing air pollution ratings with potential buyers…. This is going to be industry standard. It’s inevitable.”

Knowledge is power – and a price cut?

We are big proponents of home buyers doing their research before they buy. So we welcome this free tool to help home buyers know what they will be exposed to in their new home.  Our own research shows that almost 40% of homeowners believe that air quality is a contributing factor to their well-being.

While it might be a helpful tool for choosing the right area to live in, it’s unlikely to become a tool for negotiating a discount on the asking price.

Commenting on the BBC today, buying agent and property commentator Henry Pryor said “It’s not going to be a negotiating tool, it’s going to be an informative tool.”

Would you use air quality data to negotiate a discount on the asking price or just avoid the area completely?

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