'Mr and Mrs Expenses' face having house repossessed

Council claims house has been empty since last November

Alan and Ann Keen, the Labour MPs nicknamed "Mr and Mrs Expenses", face the repossession of the house they have designated as their main home with the Commons authorities because it appears to be unoccupied.

Although the couple's family home is only 10 miles and a 30-minute commute from Westminster, they claimed almost £39,000 between them from the taxpayer last year to run a flat in central London.

The threat of repossession will raise new question marks over the Keens' expenses claims because MPs are supposed to spend the majority of their time at the property they have told the authorities is their main home.

Yesterday, however, Hounslow Council said that the Keens' house in Brentford, west London, appeared to have been empty since last November. The building is understood to have fallen into disrepair, with windows boarded up and building materials filling the garden. The council said it had written to the couple asking them how they intended to bring the property back into use. It added: "As with all such cases, they now have one month to respond."

The council confirmed last night that it had the ultimate power to issue an empty dwelling management order, allowing it to repossess a property if it remained unoccupied and dilapidated. The house can then be used to accommodate other people.

Mrs Keen and her husband, the MP for neighbouring Feltham and Heston, bought their flat in Waterloo seven years ago and have each been claiming close to the maximum second-home allowance since then on the flat overlooking the Thames. The loophole that allows married MPs to both claim the maximum allowance for a property where they both live is being closed.

Their mortgage interest claims were reportedly against a loan of £520,000, although the property only cost £500,000 plus £20,000 for fixtures and fittings. Last year Mrs Keen claimed £18,338 in second-home allowance, including £13,636 for mortgage interest, while her husband claimed £19,855, including £13,831 for mortgage interest.

Their Waterloo apartment – now believed to be worth more than £600,000 – is in a complex with its own swimming pool, hot tub, gym and concierge service.

In a statement last night Mrs Keen said it was "categorically untrue" to claim the couple's Brentford home was empty. She said: "It is currently in the process of being substantially renovated. Our representatives are in the process of speaking to the London Borough of Hounslow with the details of our renovation work. As soon as this work is completed, we will be back living at home in Brentford, where we have lived for the past 22 years."

Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said: "It is deeply ironic that the Labour Government's powers to allow the state confiscation of private property will be utilised against absentee Labour Members of Parliament."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine