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