In this article Ad Hoc Property Management investigates the regional effects of the housing crisis that’s gripping the nation. It looks at the options available including Property Guardianship and new builds, which can provide an immediate and long-term solution to the housing shortage.
Easing the Housing Crisis Through Alternative Living Solutions
Given the Government’s latest promise to address the housing crisis with billions of pounds worth of new build investments, the shortage of quality living accommodation is right back in the spotlight.
The situation in Wales is very acute, with The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), calling for 14,000 new homes to be built in the country over the next five years. And only last year the Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government Association, set a target of having 20,000 affordable homes built by 2021, with 12,500 of these to be developed by housing associations.
Not enough affordable housing
It’s a step in the right direction, but if you look at the total housing numbers over the five years, the proportion of affordable homes is not enough.
Developers want to make as much money as they can from their properties. They are unlikely to champion cheaper housing unless there are more incentives for them to do so.
The truth is that more affordable options are needed, and fast.
Meeting the accommodation demand with alternative solutions
Providers throughout Wales are working extremely hard on other options to ease the accommodation crisis including new builds and Property Guardianship.
More brownfield site building
Recent years have seen a significant increase in the regeneration of brownfield sites across Wales.
One of the most high-profile projects Coed Darcy, is witnessing the transformation of a former refinery in South Wales. This will ultimately provide up to 4,000 homes, along with community centres, schools and healthcare facilities.
Earlier this year housebuilder and community regeneration specialist Keepmoat, announced that it had acquired landmark contracts worth £28m with the Pobl Group, to build much needed new homes on brownfield sites close to central Newport and Swansea.
With fresh Government measures announced by the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell, in April this year, councils will also have new tools to speed up development of derelict and underused land. Local authorities now have to produce and maintain up-to-date, publicly available registers of brownfield sites available for local housing. This enables housebuilders to identify suitable brownfield sites quicker, helping to unlock land for thousands of new homes.
Tiny House Movement
The tiny house movement is another emerging trend, with a growing number of tiny house builders in Wales.
Available for a fraction of the cost of conventional housing, these custom built, fully insulated, luxury cabins are built like a house to last a lifetime. Typically constructed between 100 and 400 square feet in size, and available in a range of shapes, sizes and forms, the tiny house aims to enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.
While eco concerns and the ability to have tailor made designs is fueling interest in the tiny house movement, financial worries about the cost of conventional housing is one of the biggest drivers behind this alternative way of living.
Bringing more empty properties back into use
Empty Homes Wales, claim that more than 26,000 properties sit empty in the country, so more needs to be done to bring these buildings back into circulation.
One such initiative the Empty Homes Premium, was introduced to give councils the ability to charge home owners 50% more council tax, if they left properties empty for two or more years. However, it has simply not been enforced sufficiently enough to make a difference.
More brownfield site and tiny house developments are helping to ease the shortage, but they take time to make a real impact, due to their reliance on planning, investors and developers.
By contrast, the beneficial effects of Property Occupation Model are immediate. Empty properties are quickly brought back into use, which is valuable to owners and Guardians alike. And compared to other more costly and complex options, Property Guardianship is a cost-effective solution that is both quick and simple to arrange.
A winning solution for guardians and owners
With market rents increasing all the time, interest in Ad Hoc’s Property Occupation Model continues to grow. It’s a winning formula, as Guardians get the opportunity to live in an affordably priced empty property and owners get the flexibility to decide what they want to do with their properties long term.
Guardianship can also provide an effective security and maintenance solution for property owners, as a live-in resident can deter squatters and vandals, while providing essential support in reporting any ongoing maintenance issues. This can enable owners to save up to 80% of the costs of paying for traditional security methods and significantly help to reduce their insurance premiums.
While Property Guardianship offers an effective short-term remedy to alleviate the accommodation crisis, the solution to ending the long-term housing crisis is not so easy.
It’s a point that Ad Hoc’s South Wales Area Manager, Simon Wright remains philosophical about:
“There is no single solution to ending the crisis, as the housing issue is so complex and entwined in every part of society. We need to look at everything across the board from new-builds, re-builds and bringing empty properties back into circulation to doing more to empower housing authorities, regulate interest rates, foreign investments and develop ergonomic mobile homes on available land. Only then can we begin to make serious inroads into reducing the housing shortage.”
As one of the UK’s largest property guardian companies, Ad Hoc Property Management offers large and diverse property portfolio. With offices in Cardiff, Ad Hoc supports a huge number of property owners whose premises range from flats, houses, mansions, offices to libraries, churches, sports halls, pubs and post offices.
To find out more about the many benefits of Ad Hoc’s property occupation model, click here