Tag Archives: housing Cardiff

Over 1000 properties lay empty in Cardiff

Data journalist Dan Clark continues his series of investigations for us: today, he looks into the number of empty properties in the capital.

A total of 1,318 private sector properties in Cardiff laid vacant in the last financial year (2015/16), according to new figures released by the council. Currently in the city, almost one in every 50 properties is vacant. Across the whole of Wales, there are 23,000 private properties that lie empty, a figure which has risen from 19,612 in 2012-13.

The Cardiff data, published in response to a freedom of information request, shows that 166 homes have been empty for over 5 years and 39 for over 10 years. Grangetown was the parish with the highest volume of vacant properties, recording 233, although it wasn’t clear from the response why it was so high here.

Furthermore, as of June 2016, there are 205 empty council properties. The most popular categorisation of these are ‘routine voids’ (77 per cent), followed by ‘low demand’ (5 per cent). Properties classified as ‘routine voids’ refers to empty homes that require minor repairs and safety checks.

Apologies for the stats overload, but your basic take away from this is that Cardiff has a lot of empty properties. My first thought was that perhaps the demand just wasn’t there for them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As of 1 January 2017, there were 7,893 applicants on the Council’s housing waiting list.

So, what is being done? Cardiff Council have a scheme called the ‘Housing Enforcement Empty Property Policy‘, designed to help tackle the issue. Two of their main objectives are:

  • To bring back into use as many empty properties as possible
  • To limit the effect of empty properties on the Community, Council and Owner

According to figures published in the policy, the Council are currently returning an average of 62 vacant properties a year back into use. Some of the reasons cited as to why they become vacant in the first place include, dilapidation, abandonment, unresolved ownership, property holding and care holding.

Earlier this year, plans were passed for a new £2bn “garden village” on the outskirts of the city. As part of this, almost 6,000 new homes would be built. Of that number (5,970 homes), 30 per cent would be affordable housing – half of that being social rented homes and half low cost homes. But that’s still only around 1,800 homes in total, with no further details that might help people on that housing waiting list.

Having investigated the number of empty homes that already exist within the city, building so many new ones seems like an unnecessary cost. Would it not be more beneficial to spend more resource on the empty properties policy first and increase the number being brought back into use each year?

Michelle Collins manages the Empty Homes Wales project by United Welsh, a not-for-profit social landlord with over 25 years of experience in housing and development.

She said: “Seeing homes that are left empty to go into disrepair stirs up many emotions and feelings, especially at a time when Wales has a housing crisis, with 12,000 new homes needed each year to meet current demand.

“Transforming empty homes into habitable spaces is an innovative way to provide much-needed homes and help homeowners to protect their assets.”

Refurbishing a property may seem daunting, but help is available. The Empty Homes Wales project uses an innovative leasing model that doesn’t require any financial outlay from the homeowner.

Empty Homes Wales leases properties to recoup the cost of the refurbishment, then it’s up to the homeowner – United Welsh can carry on leasing the house on your behalf, you can rent it yourself, or sell up. The rental income received during the term of the lease is used to cover the cost of the refurbishment work.

Michelle added: “We work in partnership with homeowners to overcome any barriers they may face, such as inexperience of leasing property or lack of information around refurbishment standards or contractors.”

More information on housing in Cardiff:

***

 

Struggling to find a home in Cardiff? Join the Homes for Wales campaign

Kevin Howell, Director at CIH Cymru, is here to talk the roof over your head. Bricks and mortar. HOUSES. If you’re struggling to find a home and care about the lack of affordable housing in Cardiff, read on about this campaign!

Kevin Howell Homes for Wales photo

Hi! I’m Kevin. Here’s a question. How’s your housing situation? Are you:

  • Finding it hard to save for a deposit to buy your first home?
  • Struggling to find a house share in the location you want?
  • Living with the folks, but desperate to move out?
  • Stuck in a home no longer suitable for your growing or shrinking family?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you are a victim of the housing crisis.

In Wales, house prices have increased by more than six times the average person’s income since 2008. Experts say we need to build 12,000 new Welsh homes a year. Last year we built just 6,955 hew homes; better than the year before, but far from what we need.

Across Wales the need for new homes is not distributed proportionally. It’s estimated that Cardiff requires nearly 30 per cent of the total projection. If you are already struggling to find a home in Cardiff, it’s likely going to get worse.

My organisation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, has joined up with several others – including Community Housing Cymru, Welsh Tenants, the Residential Landlords Association and Shelter Cymru, who agree that the housing crisis affects us all and the only solution is a political solution.

In Wales, the National Assembly (our law-making body – elections are coming up in May for this, folks!) has shown a great level of interest in housing, and the Welsh Government has shown good leadership in the last five years. It has introduced new housing laws, regulations and opportunities including tenancy reform, mandatory private landlord licensing, Help to buy Wales (supporting people to buy their homes), bringing empty homes back into use, and introducing a UK-first homelessness prevention duty, and all with cross party support.

I’m passionate about building on this progress, making sure that housing is a top priority for the next Assembly term too. The solution to the crisis is more investment and continued recognition of the role our homes play in our lives, in our economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

So what can you do to help? Well here are five things for starters:

  1. When they come knocking, ask your Assembly candidates how they plan to tackle the housing crisis;
  2. Like the Homes for Wales facebook Homes for Wales Facebook and get a @homesforwales twibbon;
  3. Add your pin to the Homes for Wales website;
  4. Join us at 13.00 on 4 March at the Senedd, and march for the housing housing rally;
  5. Tell a friend about Homes for Wales.

We want to end the housing crisis and build a stronger Wales. Housing is about much more than bricks and mortar – it is about people, communities, and infrastructure.

Please add your voice to the Homes for Wales campaign; the more the merrier, the louder and the stronger!

I’ll see you at the rally.

***

The Homes for Wales rally begins at 13.00 on Friday 4 March 2016, at the Senedd. The rally will march to the Hayes for an afternoon of campaign activity and fun. More information on the Homes for Wales website.

Sign up for the weekly We Are Cardiff newsletter

Check out what’s going on with We Are Cardiff Press