Empty Houses/’Great British Property Scandal’ comes North

Empty Homes

A campaign called Empty Homes and Channel 4’s The Great British Property Scandal have toured around several cities and local authorities. I managed to attend one of these events.

It is believed there is 325000-350000 empty properties (government Vs George Clarke estimate). In Britain we have a housing shortage. Other EU countries such as Ireland have the opposite problem; leading to ‘celtic tiger’ ghost towns. They also are suffering from a privatised health system.

So what is stopping houses been brought back into use?

1)Death or ill health of the owner

2)Market Forces  (those dastardly forces )

3)Accidental Owners

4)Speculative Owners ( ? )

Last year the largest house builder was self-builds and yet we have the least amount of self-builds in the developed world. Money is a big problem. A few groups have set up housing co-ops or co-ops where the mortgage is eventually paid by the rent. There is some interesting projects in which they acquire housing and do it up and/or manage it for a few years to recoup the the renovation cost. These projects can be used to give the vulnerable apprenticeships and possibly even provide a house. But these rely on initial grant or lottery funding.

The Ecology Building Society will fund certain projects but have their limits.

Unemployment is expected the grow, wages are not keeping up with inflation and the welfare state is under attack. To add to this, by the end of the year squatters run a greater risk of been arrested. Now house prices may come down 1-5% this year but the average price is £226000, which is at least 10x the  average wage.

How long before local communities are forced to come together and try to sort out empty housing? Perhaps this is where occupy movement may grow?

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