Affordable accommodation: what does the future hold?
Posted on March 17, 2017.
Why is affordable accommodation so hard to find?
Much of the discussion surrounding the UK housing market pertains to the lack of truly affordable accommodation, particularly in built-up urban areas where the lack of housing is keeping families and young people trapped in the rental market, and often struggling to make the transition towards home ownership.
The reasons for such a lack of affordable accommodation are well-documented and often discussed.
- A lack of affordable housing supply, with not enough local authorities failing to invest in genuinely affordable accommodation.
- Landowners sitting on used land, and not building on it.
- Social housing being sold off as part of the Government's Right to Buy scheme, and councils failing to replace old stock.
- Wages not keeping up with rapidly escalating house prices.
Are problems with affordable accommodation really so bad?
Much of the debate surrounding housing policy continues to revolve around these core problems. Yet some of the policy-making coming out of both local and government suggests that the future of affordable accommodation is not as bleak as some commentary would have us believe. There have been a number of recent initiatives which may help to solve the UK's affordable housing crisis.
- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has recently announced that private property developers must agree to build a minimum of 35% affordable homes in any new housing developments. In addition, Mr Khan is hoping to build at least £90,000 affordable homes in the next six years.
- The UK government has also recently published a white paper which promises to fix the broken UK housing market. The White Paper sets in motion government plans to make the rental market more secure and affordable for a greater proportion of UK renters.
- The White Paper also promises to make more rental property available, making it an equal priority to home ownership.
Case Study: why property guardianship is a new frontier in affordable accommodation
Property guardianship is just one of the ways in which the rental market is changing, offering new alternatives to potential renters seeking affordable accommodation. It arguably represents a "third sector" in the property market, as it is a new arrangement between property owner and occupant. The benefits of property guardianship
for the occupant are as follows.
- Low cost, spacious accommodation: property guardians will most often look after converted commercial property, meaning that living space is more generous than it most urban residential property. Properties are also more low cost than their residential counterparts, since property guardianship spares the tenant the normal overhead costs of renting; e.g. council tax, water, heating and electric.
- Community cohesion: the proliferation of property guardianship for the purposes of affordable accommodation has had a number of ripple effects. Among these is the community ethos of the most reputable property guardian companies, as property guardians will often take up voluntary work and community service roles in return for their affordable accommodation.
- Living in high cost areas: one of the key benefits of property guardianship is the ability it affords tenants to live in areas that would normally be outside their price range. This, in turn, gives property guardians more of a disposable income for the duration of their contract.
Property guardianship also brings more stability to the relationship between owner and occupier, as it avoids some of the hassle and baggage that sometimes comes with a tenant/landlord dynamic. This is due to the intermediary role played by the property guardian company, which ensures the tenant abides by the rules of their agreement, and will undertake thorough background checks to ensure that property owners get a good return on their investment, should they decide to delegate property management to a guardian company.
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