1,278 Rother Properties lie empty– An injustice for the 1,150 people on the Rother Council House Wai
Easy problems should have easy solutions – shouldn’t they?
Problems like Bexhill’s housing crisis, where we have a rudimentary numerical problem of too few homes for too many people- the answer is clearly to build more property in Bexhill – but that, unfortunately for those desperately seeking to purchase or let a property, takes a lot of time and huge amounts of money. So what are the other solutions?
I was a part of the recent jobs fair which was held at the De La Warr Pavilion in April, where the subject of property was mentioned. Normally someone always mentions empty properties as the solution to the problem. On the face of it, it seems so obvious.
Interestingly, I have recently carried out some research on this topic. The most recent set of figures from 2015 state there are 1,278 empty homes in the Rother District Council area. So it begs the question, why not put them back onto the system and help ease the Bexhill housing crisis? Whilst they stand empty, 1,150 Rother households (not people – households) are on the Council House Waiting List for council houses. Surely, we can undoubtedly all agree that property left empty for years and years isn’t morally right with the burgeoning Council House Waiting List, not to also mention the issue of homelessness.
However, a different story emerges when you look deeper into the numbers. Of those 1,278 homes lying empty, only 376 properties were empty for more than six months. The local authority has to report a property being empty, even if it is for a week. So many of these properties are either awaiting new homeowners or, in the case of rental properties, new tenants. Also most certainly, some properties are being refurbished and renovated, while others properties have homeowners who are anxious to sell but cannot find a buyer.
The fact is that the number of genuinely long term empty properties is only a tiny drop in the ocean of the 40,877 properties in the area covered by Rother District Council and, even if every one of those empty homes were filled with happy cheerful tenants tomorrow, it would only meet a small fraction of Bexhill housing needs.
So what does this mean for all the homeowners and landlords of Bexhill? Well, it means with demand being so high, especially for rental properties, the certainty of the rental market growing is inevitable because young people cannot buy and councils don’t have the money to build new council houses. This in turn bolsters property prices as landlords continue to buy at the lower end of the market (including starter homes), which in turn sustains the rest of the market as those sellers move up the property ladder, releasing others in turn to buy on again.
These are certainly, interesting times in the Bexhill property market!