Opinion

Why only 10% of Welsh housing should be on the open market

20 Nov 2021 6 minutes Read
Aberdaron. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Gruffydd Meredith

There is a clear need for a very radical change to the current state of housing and land in Wales.

All the citizens of Wales should be given the opportunity to live and have a home in the country they call their own if they so wish.

Currently, citizens all across Wales are being frozen out of being able to live in their own areas – whether Welsh speaking or non Welsh speaking areas – by excessive house costs way higher than the local average wages, which are mostly being pushed up by buyers from outside of Wales.

This as well as the fact that new homes being built in Wales currently have almost no local priority clauses. The Welsh Labour Government has previously admitted that their priority for housing is to cater for and promote UK housing needs rather then the needs of Wales.

However, the devolution settlement and the devolved housing remit priority of the Welsh Government should be for the housing needs of Wales and its citizens.

These are suggestions for a national Housing and Land Act for Wales that I strongly believe the Welsh Parliament should create as quickly as possible – a national law for all of Wales whether Welsh or non-Welsh speaking areas, urban or rural.

At present the vast majority of new homes being built in Wales have no priority for the citizens of Wales. This situation needs to be reversed by scraping all existing local development plans and starting from scratch.

So here are the main points that I suggest need to be urgently addressed:

One

Wales should follow the example of the island of Guernsey (and many other countries). All Welsh housing should be divided into two groups – with 90% for the local / national priority market segment for the people of Wales. The remaining 10% should be for the open market and anyone else.

This would mean that 90% of Welsh housing, whether new build or second / holiday homes available for purchase, will have a local / national market priority for Welsh citizens and permanent residents, and with the remaining 10% of homes and second homes and holiday homes being open market housing available to anyone else on a first come first served basis.

The citizens and permanent residents of Wales can be defined as people who were either born in Wales and have at least one parent born in Wales or people who have lived in Wales for at least ten years.

Two 

Working alongside grass roots councils and community groups, the local authorities across Wales will need to decide how much of the 90% local and national market housing would be available to local residents within the county and how much would be available to residents from the rest of Wales.

For example they could decide that 70% will be for local residents, 20% will be for people from the rest of Wales. In urban areas of Wales where people are moving in and out more regularly, the rate could be adjusted.

The new homes built that are part of the 90% local and national market figure would then retain this local and national ownership priority clause in perpetuity and should they be sold again the future.

As for the other 10% of housing available on the open market, the local authority will need to decide each year how to divide it between new build and second homes and holiday homes available for anyone to but within that local authority, depending on the situation.

For example, in one year, 2% could be earmarked for new homes to be built on the open market, and 8% for second and holiday homes that are sold on the open market and are available for anyone to buy. In another year this could be adjusted.

If the 10% cap is met for that year, all estate agents (and the owners selling second homes and holiday homes) would need to either sell to the citizens of Wales or wait until the start of the next sale year to be part of the 10% open market quota, and then sell to whoever they want.

There are similar systems already in place in other nations. In Switzerland, no more than 20% of any housing in any community can be owned by people from outside the country. New Zealand also has a similar policy. With regard to this type of policy internationally in general, it’s believed that almost 40% of the countries in the world have some restrictions on allowing foreign residents to own property or not.

Three

Home rental rules should follow the same system and principles as the home purchase rules. That is, 90% of the homes available for rent being available for a local and national priority market for the people of Wales, and the other 10% being available on the open market and to anyone else.

Four

The new home prices for local people in particular should match the average local wages of that local authority. ‘Affordable housing’ should mean literally that.

Five

Similar to the New Zealand model, most Welsh farmland and wild-land should also be available to Welsh citizens following the same priority market and open market model and ratio, with non-Welsh citizens still able to purchase brownfield and industrial sites for development, as well as rent or lease land in Wales if they so wish.

Six

There will be a need to stop the number of online websites selling Welsh homes and land worldwide without any regulation or control.

They should be regulated so that only official and regulated Welsh auctioneers and estate agents can advertise and sell the homes and the land of Wales (including second homes and holiday homes) as part of this national priority act.

Seven 

All social housing, private housing associations as well as the Welsh National Parks should be brought under the comprehensive control of local authorities and made fully accountable to these democratically elected local authorities.

Eight

Farmers should be allowed to build at least three homes on their land for three generations of the farming family, helping to strengthen the rural economy and make it truly sustainable and resilient for future generations.

Nine

Building societies and mortgage lenders in Wales should be encouraged to operate a 5% deposit scheme for first-time buyers in Wales. The Welsh Government should also offer an annual low-interest deposit loan fund so that these same first-time buyers can put a deposit down on these first homes.

Ten

The large number of vacant or derelict buildings in Wales should be priorities for renovation for the use of local people in particular.

These radical changes to the Welsh housing market would help ensure that all of those who call Wales home can have a place to call their own.

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j humphrys
j humphrys
14 days ago

Agree. Over to you, Welsh Gov?

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
14 days ago

Where I live which isn’t even that great, I can’t afford a house and rent is insane for what you get. We have a residents group on social media and its full of people from England wanting more information about moving into my area because its cheaper than Cheshire where they will be working while I have been told I need to save up 50 frigging grand to even get a mortgage considered. I’m going to have to move out of my hometown, possibly my country and leave my family and friends behind while my town gets turned into a… Read more »

Steve
Steve
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

I totally agree……powerful testimony,
Please write to your sm….the presure is on and they are feeling it, so write and phone and let them hear your voice it will tell in the end
pob lwc

What Ismyname
What Ismyname
14 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

You’re lucky to be eligible for a Polish passport! My parents came to the UK with the Free Polish Army during WW2. They were granted leave to remain after the war. I was born in London in the 50s. However, I have no right to a Polish passport because I have no papers from my parents, who were sent to the Russian gold mines and no longer had access to bureaucratic crap as a result. I do not even know my father’s birth place and my mother’s birth place is no longer in Poland after the post-war border shifts. I… Read more »

Gill
Gill
13 days ago
Reply to  What Ismyname

I live in an Airbnb. Luckily for me the lanlords are extremely decent and costs/ rent is just manageable on my minimum wage. But of course they could decide to open it up to visitors again, and i cannot afford anything to rent around here. of course I cannot afford to buy house .

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
14 days ago

It’s high time that policies like this were adopted in Wales. Though the current focus is on the areas where the Welsh language is under threat, the problem affects the whole of Wales, and indeed much of the developed world. The problem is of course, capitalism, but that system isn’t going anywhere soon, so there must be strict regulation which strikes a balance between satisfying the needs of citizens and also the desires of people from away who might also like to live in our country. No doubt there will be those who will play that well known card, but… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
14 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

You are right Padi. The Welsh language is under threat in its heartlands and in many of our urban areas there are segments of the traditional community that are driven out by gentrification and other fancy developments, all in the name of progress. If Wales looked after its own citizens and other parts of the UK, or even the 20+EU states in their entirety, also looked after their own citizens we’d be making a good start on enabling people to buy or rent a home at a decent price in their own patch. Then we could move forward to look… Read more »

Keith Colville Gordon
Keith Colville Gordon
14 days ago

…but is it not the original Welsh owner selling to the ‘incomer’ for the best price possible – and how do you decide which property is in which category?

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
14 days ago

That old chestnut! If you don’t sell at the market price you are effectively gifting the purchaser some tax free assets and facilitating tax evasion

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
11 days ago

Not necessarily. Many new houses in Wales are built by ‘outside companies’ and sold directly to ‘incomers’ through estate agents across the border. So not as simple as you make out.

Jack
Jack
14 days ago

Apparently it’s no longer enough to just be born in Wales. You have to have a parent born in Wales too…

Sorry, I can’t get on board with this proposal. Something needs to be done about the 2nd home problem but this isn’t it. Under this proposal, someone from Chepstow would have no problem buying a house in Ynys Mon, which isn’t exactly ‘local homes for local people’.

Another thing, it doesn’t stop Welsh people from buying 2nd homes in other parts of Wales.

It’s essentially makes immigrants to Wales second class citizens. Dim diolch!

Last edited 14 days ago by Jack
Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
14 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Not true. The person from Chepstow would be in the national not local category

Jack
Jack
14 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan Dean

But would still have priority over an immigrant who lives in Ynys Mon?

defaid
defaid
13 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Probably better than the status quo though, in which so many Welsh residents are second-class to better paid buyers from more affluent parts of the UK.

Grayham Jones
14 days ago

We in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh no more second homes in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 take all second homes of them and give them to young welsh people who can’t get on the housing market because of incomers start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales o

Caroline L Royle
Caroline L Royle
14 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

Maybe send all the Welsh back to little Wales and take their houses off them …..you 🤡

Paul
Paul
13 days ago

‘little englanders’ refers to Welsh people who put the interests of England first. No apology or explanation is required for a government of a country to put the interests of the people from that country first. We have a serious issue here. Concern for second home owners from another country is not high on the list of priorities.

Brechfa Smythe _ Rhydderch
Brechfa Smythe _ Rhydderch
13 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

My Ancesrty DNA test has me down as 100% Welsh however I live in England. England has been good to me and I have prospered in England. I have homes in France and Spain and would like a residence in Wales.Would I be welcome, I do speak Weish.

Gruffydd Meredith
Gruffydd Meredith
13 days ago

Under these suggested proposals, anyone would also still be able to buy a home in Wales on the 10% open market and would still be able to rent as well. If they had an offer of work in Wales or were caring for elderly parents etc. they would also be eligible for the priority home rental market. And once anyone had rented a place in Wales for ten years they would be considered Welsh citizens/permanent residents and therefore eligible to buy on the 90% priority market (unless they’ve already managed to buy a place on the 10% open market) –… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Gruffydd Meredith
Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
11 days ago

That question would certainly be worth discussing, were it not for the fact that you have made it all up, Hedda.

Martin Owen
Martin Owen
14 days ago

As I would hope a future independent Wales would rejoin the European Union, I do not find these policies compatible with an open Europe. As someone who has worked in and out of Wales throughout my working life it appears I would be at the back of the queue each time I returned (let alone my Welsh speaking children born elsewhere). A shortage of affordable housing is not cured by artificial controls of the demand side. Over the past 30 years West Wales has had an absolutely abysmal record of building affordable housing in places where there are transport, jobs… Read more »

Steve
Steve
14 days ago
Reply to  Martin Owen

We cant keep building to fill the housing vacuum created by second and holiday homes…. and by the overwhelming number of people moving from England…..we could never build enough……

Moelwen Gwyndaf
Moelwen Gwyndaf
13 days ago
Reply to  Martin Owen

Countries within the EU have such regulations e.g. Austria.

Gill
Gill
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin Owen

Untrue re abysmal building record. Carms IS SATURATED and has far too much urban development in places like Llanelli and Carmarthen , causing envirinmental, infrastructure, traffic and cultural problems. We need a radical rethink

AnthonyA Coslett
AnthonyA Coslett
14 days ago

Those who cannot see, or will not recognise the pertinence of this comprehensive policy suggestion are those with little first hand experience of the issues involved. Should a future independent Cymru seek to return to the EU she will do so as a fully fledged member of that association of European nations each and everyone of which enjoys some form of protection for its citizens, its language/languages and its indigenous communities including the protection of culture by ensuring the viability of local housing for local people. It was only Blair’s U.K. that operated a ‘free for all’ immigration policy. Other… Read more »

Geoff Evans
Geoff Evans
14 days ago

Finally, some serious proposals to deal with the appalling housing situation in Wales. If our politicians carry on ignoring the destruction of Welsh communities for much longer then this nation we purport to love so much will cease to exist long before the end of this century. Situation critical!

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
14 days ago

Seems reasonable. A start to the discussion. Maybe a few tweeks here and there

Llewyn
Llewyn
13 days ago

Isn’t this kind of bad idea? Imagine the uproar if the English brought in a rule that 90% of homes are allocated only to English people. I can see the headline… “Welsh man trying to buy a home in London due to moving for work not allowed because he is Welsh.”

Paul
Paul
13 days ago
Reply to  Llewyn

Given that their population is 19x ours, even if we all moved, it would not be an issue.

Gruffydd Meredith
Gruffydd Meredith
13 days ago
Reply to  Llewyn

Hello there. I’d offer this in response to your point: A similar local priority scheme exists in parts of England such as the Peak district and the North York Moors. These issues are also relevant to England and her citizens. English citizens should also not be priced out and driven out of their local areas (including in London) and it would be more than fair for England to have a similar reasonable and fair local/national priority law in place. Same goes for Scotland, Cornwall etc. if this is what they want to do. This is also an increasing global problem… Read more »

Mike Elgin
Mike Elgin
11 days ago

You are forgetting one thing with all of this Nationalist rubbish- Wales is not independent and everyone who is a UK citizen is entitled to live and buy property anywhere in the UK including Wales. I think before you start wanting such controls you need to try to persaude the 80% of people who are against independence to vote for independence. I would suggest your crack pot ideas probably put more people off than ever.

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
11 days ago
Reply to  Mike Elgin

“…everyone who is a UK citizen is entitled to live and buy property anywhere in the UK including Wales…”

Not correct I’m afraid. The Peak District, the Lake District and the North York Moors all have local priority schemes, so ‘anyone who is a UK citizen’ cannot just move there. Why can these places have such schemes but it’s ‘nationalist rubbish’ if suggested in Wales?

Stephen
Stephen
13 days ago

Another horrendous article…who is writing this nonsense?

Oli Jenkin
Oli Jenkin
11 days ago

I’m a 25 year old Welsh man that grew up with very traditional traditions & cultures. I have been renting a home since I was 19 and now Ive finally been able to save enough up for a deposit on a mortgage for a small house. However house prices have gone up astronomical so therefore I will be leaving the U.K and finding somewhere more cheaper and probably safer(it was only last week another stabbing occurred about 2 streets away). The next & current generation is f*ed and looks up to rappers and “social influencers”. These streets will never be… Read more »

arthur owen
10 days ago

I agree,as long as my house is in the 10%,I expect most Welsh home owners would say the same.

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