A Look Into Richmond Council’s Proposal
Homes from Empty Homes, an organisation aimed at monitoring vacant real estate, recently shared that there are almost 60,000 vacant houses in the capital.
For example, in the Richmond area alone, there are over 377 empty homes, while there are 3700 families listed in their housing waiting list.
In response, the Richmond Council has identified, in a recent proposal, 3 properties near their area which they plan to buy from their current owner, sell them on to investors or developers willing to “flip” the house, and eventually get someone to live in there. The catch, however, is that all of these tasks must be accomplished within the time span of just 6 months to a year.
Senior health environmental health officer for the Richmond Council, Lola Adepoju, said in a report that they are pushing for the revival of abandoned houses to minimise and even erase its negative impact on the neighbourhood. She claimed in the same interview that “empty homes are an eyesore, and affect neighbouring properties.” Aside from that, she also hopes that the approval of the project would help people find housing, and prevent the spread of vandalism.
It’s music to my ears to hear that local councils are doing their part in helping solve the housing problem in the UK.
For months on end, we’ve been hearing stories go on and on that aspiring home buyers, especially the first timers, are having a hard time finding and buying houses for sale. The problem, sometimes, roots from the fact that there is a shortage of houses being put on the market, but, most of the time, it’s because people just can’t afford the price tags of homes being offered for sale.
Yes, the government has offered ‘Band-Aid’ solutions like the ‘Help to Buy‘ scheme to help more people afford homes for sale, but I don’t think that it would be sustainable in the long run, especially when you take in to consideration the threat of rising interest rates, but that’s a topic that could be better discussed another time. After all, I am here to talk about how much I commend the Richmond council’s new proposal.
Going back on track, the most “winning” part of the proposal is their effort to clean up the neighbourhood.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for one second, would you buy a house in an area littered with vandals all around? I wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an avid fan of street art and installations, but when you combine gang related graffiti and abandoned homes all in one sentence that just doesn’t sound safe for me.
If you start cleaning up an area. More families and people would choose to live in that neighbourhood, and where there is a growth in population comes more opportunities to open businesses. In the end everybody wins, since this winning combination means higher property values for the neighbourhood.
One thing that I don’t agree on is the very tight window to accomplish everything. The council gave the investors 6 months to a year to turn everything around.
I understand that the point of the project is to resuscitate properties as soon as possible, but, based on personal experience, I don’t think that regular investors, who are most likely going to complete project during weekends, can meet the deadline that they want. If the projects, however, are picked up by developers as Ms. Adepoju and the council expect, then the timeline wouldn’t be such an issue.
Overall, I hope that more councils would replicate this proposal, since having a roof over their heads is one of the basic necessities that people try to achieve in their lifetime. The chance of becoming a homeowner shouldn’t be exclusive to the wealthy, but a goal that everyone could work for.
While I am not sure if reviving abandoned homes is a more affordable option compared to new build homes, at least it augments the number of houses being offered for sale and buyers wouldn’t be robbed of the chance to become homeowners just because houses are out of stock.