Tackling Cornwall’s Empty Property Crisis

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Tackling Cornwall’s Empty Property Crisis
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Housing has long been a problem in Cornwall, with a lack of affordable homes for residents a stand out issue.

Whilst people flock to the picturesque county for summer sunshine, those who live there often struggle to remain in their hometowns. The Falmouth Packet reveals that not only does Cornwall have low wage levels compared to the rest of the UK, the cost of housing continues to rise as well. That makes it increasingly difficult for the local population to own their own homes or even aspire to buy a property.

There are numerous factors at work which exasperate the situation. Many towns are blighted by second homes, owned by people outside the area, with many smaller cottages and houses standing empty for long periods of the year. In addition, there is an estimated £1bn worth of property that is currently empty and uninhabited in the private sector.

There are several means by which the housing crisis is being tackled, one of which is a proposed ‘new town’ in the area. The government have already pledged £45m for a new road in Truro that will connect to the new town, which would not only include new homes but also a sports stadium for the Cornish Pirates and Truro City. Some of those homes would be affordable properties for residents.

There’s also a scheme by Cornwall Council to get empty properties, currently in the private sector, inhabitable once again. Landlords can take out loans from the council to renovate their properties and help deliver more affordable, quality homes for local people. Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell said: “We want to work with empty property owners to alleviate their problems in getting funds to renovate potential homes which will also help to address the housing shortage in the Cornwall.”

However, there is an issue in the area with high eviction rates. Cornwall Live suggested that one family is evicted from their home every other day in the county. 187 of the homeless families recorded in the area last year had lost privately rented accommodation, either due to eviction high costs. Those figures are disturbing as they also deter private landlords from entering the market or perhaps putting their properties out to rent.

Landlords are offered some form of protection though and the council’s scheme is aimed at helping them make the most of their property stock, alleviating the overall problem at the same time. A private landlord can choose to protect themselves a little more too if they take out special insurance to prevent against rogue tenants. HomeServe explains there are insurance policies available for landlords that cover a wide range of emergency situations, which would offer some protection to those hoping to help the Cornish housing crisis. If landlords are helped to get the property in a good state before renting, then covered adequately in the event of issues once a tenant is in situ, perhaps the situation can begin to ease a little.

In such a desirable area, it is commonplace to see local people frozen out by outside influences. Whilst the summer economy is boosted by sun, surf and sand, once the tourists withdraw for the winter the area is economically challenged and local people suffer. Hopefully, the approaches being implemented in the new decade will go some way to making housing a little more reachable for many Cornish natives.

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