One of the most frustrating dilemmas for planning commissions and the authorities in the UK is undoubtedly the lack of suitable housing for the estimated 320,000 homeless.. Tens of thousands of people need to be accommodated in temporary homes and shelters over the coldest parts of the winter, which places communities under severe pressure. While there is a lot of pressure on landlords in terms of costs, fees, and duties, this doesn’t seem to resolve the vacancy issue either.

The Ugly Skeleton In The Housing Closet

With the homeless figure so high, it’s hard to come to terms with the high vacant property rate. In England, there are around 205,000 vacant properties and while this is substantially better than the near 327,000 reported in 2008, it’s still alarming considering that it increased from last year. A frustrating addition to this figure is that these properties are vacant for more than six months at a time. Long-term rentals see to be the least favourite item on a property investor’s list, as figures reveal that of the 23.7 million properties in England, only 0.9% of these are long-term rentals. For those looking to find a place to stay for the foreseeable future, but are unable to enter the property market themselves, this poses a difficult dilemma. It creates a very competitive rental market which pushes rental costs up well above an affordable level.

Only The Wealthy Catered For

Around 500 new developments are on the cards for London, albeit with a caveat. These developments are not intended for first-time home buyers or those who fall into the low income brackets. The housing crisis means that those looking for medium or long-term leases will have to satisfy themselves with high rentals or long commutes, and in many cases even both. While London is home to the highest percentage of super rich individuals per capita, this doesn’t alleviate the homeless situation. These new developments bring a further dose of vacant properties to the mix, and it’s estimated that around one in 20 is vacant. The higher the value of the property, the lower the occupancy rate. This means that in the wealthiest parts of town, the occupancy rates are lowest.

Looking To A Turnaround Solution

While new developments might not meet the needs of those fresh to the housing market, there are a number of properties in the UK that are earmarked for a total overhaul. Derelict properties are the target of housing schemes that not only want to provide affordable housing to families, but also uplift that particular area. With the extra £2 billion promised to housing associations, post-industrial areas are slowly starting to transform into exciting little neighbourhoods filled with potential.

While the housing crisis may leave many scratching their heads trying to find answers, it will take the full cooperation of communities to see change. While investment properties are often earmarked for short-term stays such as Airbnb and other vacation rentals, housing associations still have a few options open to them to turn the situation around.

Author: Sandy Kenrick

Sandy Kenrick swapped a fast-paced career as business banker for the insurance industry. Long hours and a new family quickly led her to look beyond the world of finance. As a work from home mom, Sandy now gets to do what she loves. Much of her work still involves finance and business, but when that mid-afternoon sun swings around it’s time to switch off the laptop, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy her growing family.