Northgate House – An answer to the housing crisis?

The rising cost of property across the UK is making it increasingly difficult for not only property owners trying to rent their property, but also for first-time home buyers looking to get on the property ladder. Country-wide, the number of young homeowners has halved since the ‘90s. The average first-time buyer needs to borrow upwards of 40 times their salary to be able to buy a home, and roughly 34 per cent rely on the ‘bank of mum and dad’ for financial help.

All over the UK, people are feeling the sting – and West Yorkshire is no exception. Here, the average cost of buying a home has reached £188,449, unprecedented in this part of the UK. Those who can’t afford to buy are left with sky-high rental costs averaging at £690 pcm in this area. While councils are proposing spending millions of tax-payer’s money on building new homes, there is an abundance of empty properties that can and should be utilised.

One potential solution

In the autumn of 2017, Calderdale Council’s Northgate House offices in Halifax closed its doors in an attempt by the local authority to attract more major commercial retailers.  But until the building’s fate is decided, it is sitting empty.

That’s where Ad Hoc Property Management comes in. They were engaged by Calderdale Council to manage the empty premises by placing pre-approved, carefully-vetted ‘property guardians’ in it on a short-term basis. By occupying the building, the guardians keep it safe and looked after, while its future is decided.

The Northgate House property has been converted to accommodate 17 individual living spaces and has some of the best views of the Yorkshire area. The rooms range from cosy double bedrooms to huge open plan office spaces, all sharing a kitchen and newly installed showers. The spaces go between £195pcm and £270pcm, which includes all bills and council tax. By placing Guardians into these empty properties, people are given the opportunity to pay a very affordable licence fee, and save for a chance to get onto the property ladder.

It is a win/win situation for both parties. The local council gets peace of mind knowing their property is in safe hands, while the Guardians occupying the building are able to benefit from affordable housing and a quirky, alternative way of living,” said Craig Mitchell, local Area Manager for Ad Hoc.

Both significant savings and reassurance for local authorities

Security for an empty property can run into the thousands of pounds and repairs for damage caused by vandals and squatters can cost even more. The costs mitigated as a result of guardian occupancy include security of the premises, plus the potential of reduced insurance and taxes, so local authorities can save significant sums, which are always badly needed elsewhere.  The use of available spaces can also regenerate local areas and economies.

According to reports, across Yorkshire and Humber there are 27,058 properties that have been recorded as long-term empty. If more people, as well as public-sector bodies, were aware of the benefits of property guardianship, the opportunities for improving communities and saving money would work hand-in-hand with a lateral solution to the region’s shortage of affordable homes; something that should be investigated as a matter of urgency.

For more information about Ad Hoc’s property management or if you are interested in finding affordable accommodation and helping communities feel safer, please contact: 0191 338 6699 or 0333 015661

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