Council buying properties to tackle ‘exceptional’ housing crisis
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
A council is buying up private homes including some in second-home hotspots such as Abersoch – in a bid to tackle a homelessness crisis.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s cabinet meeting heard last week that it has so far bought eight homes across the county and more purchases were underway.
By the end of its Housing Action Plan the housing department aims to own 100 houses to rent to local people.
It is part of strategies to address “significant challenges in the homelessness field” and create affordable homes.
Cabinet member for housing Craig ab Iago reported there were now 669 homeless people in the county “an exceptional number.”
There was also “a high number” 211, in temporary accommodation.
It has been widely reported in the past year that second homes owners in holiday spots such as Abersoch are increasingly selling up amid council tax premium hikes.
Other reasons include changes to Wales’s tenancy rules which have led to some landlords selling up properties, some being snapped up by the council.
Areas where the council had purchased, or in process of buying, include Abersoch, Nefyn, and Pwllheli (2), as well as Llanbedr, Llanberis, Tywyn, Llanfestiniog and Bermo.
Cllr ab Iago said “We are now seeing more homes coming on the market.”
“Seventy percent of landlords now say they want to sell their houses. It shows what sort of situation we are dealing with now.
“It follows the ending of Section 21 rules, where landlords were able to get rid of tenants quickly without any reason.
“We have seen an increase in the number of landlords doing that, 169 in a year, 14 , in a month, also an exceptional number.
“However, I am very pleased to report that eight houses have now been purchased, with another five either close to completion or subject to contract and in solicitors’ hands.
“Our intention is to let the houses on intermediate rent to a person with local connections and in need of such a house.”
The department had also worked on a leasing scheme offering a support package for landlords.
“Some landlords have inherited houses and want to help local people, they don’t want to sell, as they don’t know who is going to get them.
“The Government has given us a target of four houses for this but we are in a process of getting 19 houses on that scheme.” He said.
It aims to increase council housing by moving people from temporary accommodation to permanent, encouraging landlords to lease property to the council for 5-20 years, and a guaranteed rent.
He added “We are asking them to work with us to house local people, we take the stress out of the process, there’s guaranteed income there.” Cllr ab Iago said.
Other housing initiatives included the Gwynedd Homebuy scheme for eligible people finding it difficult to afford buying homes on the open market.
The council also intended to buy “suitable development land” to develop its own housing.
Anyone with a home or land to sell was also urged to contact the housing and property department.
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Good to see The Council taking some positive action instead of just moaning about second homes.
Yes, the holiday home problem needed positive action, and this is a welcome start.
But surely we need the retirees from Shropshire to support our communities for about 6 weeks a year.
Well done Gwynedd!