Housing UK: Average Asking Prices Barely Rise As Landlords Abandon The Property Market

AS NEWS this morning that the average asking price of property rose by just one per cent over the last month, the lowest monthly rate of increase at this time of year since 2010, indications are that a storm is brewing in the UK property market – but not just as a result of possible no-deal Brexit.

The slowdown, as reported today by property search portal Rightmove, suggests that the currently subdued conditions are as a result of a weakening at entry level, where the price of properties with two bedrooms or less which are normally the ideal rental investment, are falling in some areas.

That’s because due to changes in the way that buy to let investors will be taxed from next year, many are holding off purchasing further properties or indeed are beginning to exit the sector altogether.

As recent figures from lending trade body UK Finance indicate, mortgage approvals for new buy to let purchases are currently down by 14 per cent compared to a year ago and reduced by 53 per cent compared to three years ago.

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The changes to the way that landlords are taxed, otherwise known as Section 24, was actually announced in the 2015 Budget by the then Chancellor, George Osborne.

Whilst it’s been public knowledge for some time – buy to let investors have been paying additional stamp duty on their purchases since 2016 – it’s estimated that as many as half of all landlords in the UK with buy to let mortgages are unaware that they will soon have to pay more tax on their rental income, with the effects ostensibly starting in January 2019 and increasing over the next few years as the amount payable to the treasury increases.

Many industry commentators have suggested that spring 2019 will see a significant amount of properties owned by landlords hitting the market as they realise that buy to let is no longer a viable investment for them, spurred on by their self-assessment statement in January which, for many, may be the first inkling of what’s in store.

Brian Murphy, Head of Lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau suggested that creating reduced demand from investors was perhaps in the government’s plan all along, explaining that: “Many in the industry have long held the view that the introduction of increased taxation on landlords was partly designed to create this very situation, and help to enable more First Time Buyers to purchase their own property due to lack of competition with landlords for the same properties.

“So, to that end, more stock at entry level with prices softening may assist that strategy.”

Brian went on to say: “Obviously, the introduction of the reduction in mortgage interest rate relief, which is a phased process, doesn’t affect those landlords who aren’t leveraged.

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“However, for those who do have borrowings against investment properties and who haven’t as yet taken measures to mitigate their tax position, the additional tax that they will be paying from the next year may make it less viable for them to stay in the sector.”

Of course, the upside in all of this is that those at the very start of their home ownership journey might now have a better chance of getting their foot on the ladder, due to a combination of more suitable properties on the market, lower pricing and as of last year, an exemption on stamp duty.

Miles Shipside, Director of Rightmove, commented on the report’s findings: “With the government using the tax system to try and help first time buyers while deterring out-of-favour landlords, prices in this sector have been subdued as intended.

“That gives aspiring first time buyers an autumn opportunity to negotiate a favourable deal. The story at this time of year for the last five years has been an average autumn bounce of 1.6 per cent in the price of property coming to market.

“Whilst all regions have seen a monthly rise, this year has a more subdued narrative with only a one per cent uplift.

“While the backdrop of political uncertainty and stretched buyer affordability remains the same, this month has price drops at the bottom of the market dragging down the national average.”

Miles added: “While landlords were hit with a three per cent stamp duty surcharge on property purchases back in April 2016, in contrast most first time buyers were effectively awarded stamp duty-free status in November 2017.

“The fall in prices at the bottom of the market during what is, traditionally, a busier time means that those keen to sell need to price accordingly, which gives an opportunity for those stamp duty-free first time buyers to negotiate harder.”

At the coal face, Robert Lazarus, MD of Paramount Properties in North West London, observed: “There’s a better opportunity for first time buyers coming in to the market at the minute compared to a couple of years ago, especially if they’re looking for a one bed flat.

“Before the additional stamp duty on second homes came in we were selling 20 per cent of these flats to landlords which was driving prices up, and now we’re selling less than five per cent of them to landlords, giving first time buyers the first pick of new stock that comes on.”

Another layer to this complex picture would be the rumoured introduction in the Autumn Budget of capital gains tax relief for landlords who sell to long-term tenants.

If true, this could generate a unique opportunity for those who want to exit the sector to work with those who want to buy, thus creating a win-win scenario for both parties.

However, with latest research from the National Landlords Association suggesting that as many as a fifth of all landlords may leave the sector over the next two years, potentially removing up to 980,000 privately rented properties from the UK’s housing stock, the upwards pressure on rents that this shift in the market might create is not to be under-estimated.

Good news for landlords with a long-term investment view, but not so positive for those who, out of necessity, have to rent their home rather than buy.

Source: Louisa Fletcher, Express.co.uk

Protest In Hong Kong Over Housing On Artificial Islands

Thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong Sunday to protest a government plan to build new housing on artificial islands, claiming the “white elephant” project will damage the environment and line the pockets of developers.

he government’s proposal to reclaim 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of land around Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, Lantau, has been touted as a solution to the pressing housing shortage in the city – notorious for being one of the least affordable markets on the planet.

City leader Carrie Lam said new residential units on the proposed artificial islands could accommodate 1.1 million people in the coming years, and pledged to reserve 70 percent of them for public housing.

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But critics say the massive projects are too costly and will also destroy the environment – especially marine life – with many also expressing frustration over the lack of public say in the plans.

There is no official figure for how much the islands will cost, but some campaigners have put the figure at HK$800 billion (US$102 billion).

Protesters chanted “We don’t want white elephants!” in Sunday’s march, joined by children holding up their own illustrations of Lantau’s famous Chinese white dolphins – whose numbers have plunged due to recent construction and reclamation, according to environmentalists.

“There are many ways to find land in Hong Kong, but (the authorities) don’t want to cross the property developers,” said 52-year-old Mr. Chan, referring to the government’s reluctance to take back the vast land banks held by developers.

For some, the project should be rejected for its environmental impact alone.

“This shouldn’t be controversial. Once you’ve destroyed the environment, that’s it,” said accountant Mrs. Wong.

Mr. Chan and Mrs. Wong only provided their surnames.

City officials are promoting the future metropolis of Lantau, which is linked to the mainland with a mega-bridge, as a gateway to the world and to neighbouring Chinese cities. Hong Kong’s international airport – also partially built on reclaimed land – is located just off Lantau.

This is not the first time a mega infrastructure project has sparked outcry in the city.

Hong Kong’s new high-speed rail link to the mainland and the soon-to-be-opened bridge connecting the city with Macau and Zhuhai have also proven divisive.

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Supporters say the multi-billion-dollar projects will boost business, while others claim they are politically driven and costly white elephants aimed at blurring the boundaries between Hong Kong and mainland China as Beijing tightens its grip over the semi-autonomous city.

Prominent democracy activist Nathan Law, who joined Sunday’s protest, said the government’s use of public funds to “ardently” pursue mega-projects rather than welfare programmes such as universal pension shows its lack of will to improve people’s livelihoods.

“This is how an undemocratic government who doesn’t need to be accountable to the people performs,” Law told AFP.

Sierra Leone Cancels $300 Million Airport Deal With China

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 3, 2018.

Sierra Leone has nixed plans to build a controversial, $318 million airport outside the capital of Freetown with a Chinese company and funded by Chinese loans.

The mega project, which was due to be completed in 2022, had been commissioned by the previous president Ernest Bai Koroma in March this year.

Its cancellation comes amid cooling enthusiasm in both Pakistan and Malaysia for Chinese loans backing large-scale infrastructure projects in recent months.

But Sierra Leone’s decision is the first time an African government has canceled an already announced, major China-backed deal.

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“After serious consideration and diligence, it is the Government’s view that (it) is uneconomical to proceed with the construction of the new airport when the existing one is grossly under utilized,” said a letter from the country’s Minister of Transport and Aviation to the project’s director, published in local media.

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Sierra Leone’s Aviation Minister Kabineh Kallon said the current airport would be renovated instead.

“I do have the right to take the best decision for the country,” he said. It’s unclear if there are any financial penalties associated with canceling the deal.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Thursday the cancellation didn’t indicate any rift between China and Sierra Leone, claiming the project had only been in an exploratory phase.

“When cooperating with African countries that include Sierra Leone, China has always adhered to the principles of equality-based consultations and win-win cooperation,” the spokesman said.

“I don’t think this particular project should be overblown as an indication of problems between the Chinese and Sierra Leone governments.”

SOURCE: CitizenTv

Singapore Tops New World Bank Human Capital Rankings

In top-ranked Singapore, the earnings potential was 88 per cent of potential, while in the US, productivity and earnings were measured at 76 per cent of potential. PHOTO – Veem

Singapore is the best country for developing human capital, according to a report released by the World Bank on Thursday (Oct 11).

It ranked first out of 157 economies, beating South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong into second, third and fourth positions, respectively.

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Singapore’s effort to invest in its human capital will allow children born today to fulfil 88 per cent of their potential to be productive when they grow up, given that they get a full education and enjoy good health.

The report noted that Singapore’s human capital index (HCI) measure is higher for girls than boys.

The 2018 Human Capital Index, part of the Washington-based lender’s initiative to help economies improve their investment in people, was launched at the start of the IMF-World Bank meetings.

It measures how well economies are developing their human capital based on five indicators – the probability of survival to age five, a child’s expected years of schooling, test scores, adult survival rate, and the stunting rate among children.

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Some 56 per cent of all children born today will lose more than half of their potential lifetime earnings if governments do not take appropriate steps to prepare for a healthy and educated population.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim called for economies to enhance their human capital, which is the sum of the knowledge, skills and health, among other things, that people gain throughout their lives.

“Policies to build human capital are some of the smartest investments that countries can make to boost long-term, inclusive economic growth,” he said, pointing out a quarter of children are likely to fail to meet their full potential because of malnutrition and diseases that cause stunting.

“If a country’s children grow up unable to meet the needs of the future workplace, that country will find itself incapable of employing its people, unable to increase its output, and utterly unprepared to compete economically,” Dr Kim added.

He also took note the success of Vietnam, among the best performers in South-east Asia, as an economy that manages to improve its educational outcome through increased expenditure – following the paths taken by other Asian peers, such as China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.

Vietnam ranked 48th in the index, with its population set to achieve 67 per cent of their future economic potential. Indonesia, however, only ranked 87th, and it will see its population realise 53 per cent of their potential.

Dr Kim said that Indonesia is one of the “early adapters” of advice suggested by the World Bank to climb the index, pointing out a 20 per cent allocation of spending in the state budget for education. However, he said, that Indonesia still needs to work on some issues, such as reducing stunted growth among children.

Home sellers slash prices, especially in California

A home awaits sale at a reduced asking price  in Glendale, California.

After three years of soaring home prices, the heat is coming off the U.S. housing market. Home sellers are slashing prices at the highest rate in at least eight years, especially in the West, where the price gains were hottest.

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In the four weeks ended Sept. 16, more than one-quarter of the homes listed for sale had a price drop, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. That is the highest level since the company began tracking the metric in 2010. Redfin defines a price drop as a reduction in the list price of more than 1 percent and less than 50 percent.

Home Sales Declining in Southern California  

“After years of strong price growth and intense competition for homes, buyers are taking advantage of the market’s easing pressure by being selective about which homes to offer on and how high to bid,” said Taylor Marr, senior economist at Redfin, in a release. “But there are some early signs of a softening market, and the increase in price drops may be another indicator that sellers are going to have trouble getting the prices, and the bidding wars, that they may have just months ago.”

Critical shortage remains

There is still a critical shortage of homes for sale, especially on the lower end of the housing market, but supplies did increase annually in August for the first time in more than three years, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, the increase in the median home value is now in the 4 percent range, rather than the 6 to 8 percent range where it has been for the past two years.

“While inventory continues to show modest year-over-year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory — especially moderately priced, entry-level homes — would propel sales.”

That may be true on a national level, but in California, where home price gains were in double digits, active listings were 17 percent higher in August compared with August 2017, and sales dropped to the slowest pace in two years, according to the California Association of Realtors. California home prices were still up 5.5 percent annually, but that is down significantly from recent gains, and the median number of days it took to sell a home rose from 18 to 21.

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California ‘market shift’

“While home prices continued to rise modestly in August, the deceleration in price growth and the surge in housing supply suggest that a market shift is underway,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, senior vice president and chief economist at the California Realtors group. “We are seeing active listings increasing and more price reductions in the market, and as such, the question remains, ‘How long will it take for the market to close the price expectation gap between buyers and sellers?'”

The price gap may close even more quickly if mortgage rates continue their trend higher. The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage loan is up more than a quarter of a percentage point in the past month and is knocking on the door of 5 percent, a level not seen in nearly a decade.

Diana Olick

We need more flexible housing for 21st-century lives

The Great Australian Dream, underpinned by private home ownership, is a concept from the 19th and 20th centuries. Our housing stock was, and continues to be, designed and built for people who lived in previous centuries. The result is housing that discriminates and excludes, and that is becoming increasingly unaffordable. We need 21st-century housing that responds to the needs of 21st-century living.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report on 21st-century housing careers points to factors that are unique to 21st-century lives and which have direct  impacts on housing. The greatest of these impacts is the risk society, a term originally defined by sociologist Ulrich Beck. As the AHURI report observes:

Change within economic and social structures has eroded the certainties of the previous Fordist or industrial society and resulted in a process of “individualisation” where individuals and households are increasingly confronted by the risks – and opportunities – of a rapidly changing social and economic environment.

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These risks come in many forms: limited opportunities for ongoing employment, an ageing population and the uncertainty of old age, or separation and divorce from a partner. All these factors can significantly alter housing circumstances.

Without digging too deeply into the literature on Australian housing in the 21st century, it seems obvious that workforce casualisation and the gig economy are incompatible with 30-year bank loans for a fixed asset such as a house. Existing approaches to housing, from apartments to detached dwellings, are too inflexible. Instead, we need options for housing that are more flexible and can accommodate the risks associated with 21st-century living.

This might go some way to explaining the popularity of the Tiny House Movement. Tiny houses provide the flexibility required in 21st-century lives. They are mobile, can be packed away and stored, and are assets that can be liquidated much more easily than a house.

However, small living is not for everyone. There are design-led solutions for flexible housing that don’t require people to move into cramped quarters.

Two examples of flexible housing can be found in Brisbane.

One Room Tower (2017) in West End, designed by Phorm architecture + design with Silvia Micheli and Antony Moulis, is an addition to an existing inner-city house. Instead of adding to the house in the traditional manner, One Room Tower is a detached pavilion carefully designed with an open layout. The extra space can be adapted to provide many different uses to suit the needs of its inhabitants.

This innovative design, which provides much-needed flexibility, recently won a Queensland Architecture Award.

Another example is in the suburb of Clayfield. Two Pavilion House (2014) was designed by Kirsty Volz and David Toussaint. The house is split into two pavilions joined by a communal outdoor space and an internal courtyard.

This design provides flexible modes of occupation: it can be occupied as a single detached three-bedroom dwelling, or as a two-bedroom house with a self-contained bedsit. The result is a house that can be occupied by a multigenerational family, provide rental income, incorporate a home office, or a second living area.

It’s not just room layouts that provide the flexibility in these houses. They require careful consideration in the design process to develop. Things to be considered include: the sequences of access (entering and leaving a house and/or room); the adjacencies of rooms, so as to maintain privacy, security and adequate fire separation; and the provision of services such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, some of which can be shared.

Both of these houses provide for flexible living arrangements while still complying with the requirements of building regulations.

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A growing number of housing solutions are meeting the need for multigenerational housing, providing accommodation for ageing parents or adult children. Granny flats are a good example.

However, some of these solutions do not meet building regulations. It is a concern if these houses fail to provide adequate health and safety, fire separation, or security to protect belongings. Carefully designed, fit-for-purpose dwellings that safely provide options for multiple and varied occupancies are needed.

It is also time for some local authorities to re-evaluate regulations, and consider how these might safely match the need for flexible and adaptable accommodation.

Flexible, “loose fit” housing will provide greater diversity in accommodation. And, by doing so, it will be more inclusive of a broader cross-section of society – diverse housing for a diverse society.

Flexible housing also has the potential to be a design-led solution to housing affordability, by adapting housing to suit the needs of everyone in the risk society.

Existing housing stock is designed around the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms that appeal to the market and so fails to be responsive to what people need from housing in the 21st century.

Kirsty Volz

Home Mortgage

Home Mortgage is a loan given by a bank, mortgage company or other financial institution for the purchase of a primary or investment residence. In a home mortgage, the owner of the property (the borrower) transfers the title to the lender on the condition that the title will be transferred back to the owner once the payment has been made and other terms of the mortgage have been met.

A home mortgage will have either a fixed or floating interest rate, which is paid monthly along with a contribution to the principal loan amount. As the homeowner pays down the principal over time, the interest is calculated on a smaller base so that future mortgage payments apply more towards principal reduction as opposed to just paying the interest charges. In order to estimate the total cost of your monthly mortgage payments, it’s beneficial to use an online mortgage calculator.

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Home mortgages allow a much broader group of citizens the chance to own real estate, as the entire sum of the house doesn’t have to be provided up front. But because the lender actually holds the title for as long as the mortgage is in effect, they have the right to foreclose the home (sell it on the open market) if the borrower can’t make the payments.

A home mortgage is one of the most common forms of debt, and it is also one of the most advised. Mortgage loans come with lower interest rates than almost any other kind of debt an individual consumer can find.

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Home mortgages range from 10 to 30 years and the two main types of home mortgage loans are fixed rate and adjustable rate. In a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate and the periodic payment are generally the same each period. In an adjustable-rate home mortgage, the interest rate and periodic payment vary. Interest rates on adjustable-rate home mortgages are generally lower than fixed-rate home mortgages because the borrower bears the risk of an increase in interest rates.

To obtain a mortgage, the person seeking the loan must submit an application and information about his or her financial history to a lender, which is done to show the lender that the borrower is capable of repaying the loan. Sometimes, borrowers look to a mortgage broker for help in choosing a lender. When the borrower and the lender agree on the terms of the home mortgage, the lender puts a lien on the home as collateral for the loan. This means that if the borrower defaults on the mortgage, the lender may take possession of the house, which is called foreclosure.


South Africa: Affordable Housing – City of Cape Town and Developers At Crossroads

Politicians, civil servants and people in Cape Town’s property industry are at a crossroads. The next few months will tell who is committed to building an inclusive and spatially just city.

A black majority live on the densely populated urban periphery, in townships, as backyarders or in informal settlements, while the wealthy continue to live in low density mostly white suburbs in well-located areas.

Over the last year, Ndifuna Ukwazi has been objecting to exclusive and unaffordable private developments across the City of Cape Town. Our concern, shared by many, is that this pattern of spatial planning has negative long-term fiscal, social, environmental and political costs and is ultimately detrimental to the sustainability of the Western Cape economy. In effect, this pattern replicates the apartheid city.

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For example, to buy an average one-bedroom apartment selling for R1,250,000, a household would have to pay at least R12,270 per month in bond repayments. To pay this a household would need to earn a minimum monthly income of at least R36,800, assuming that the bond repayment is no more than one third of income on a bond.

Most poor and working class families are between three and five people in the household, so even if the family can afford to buy a one-bedroom property they may not be able to fit. So to measure access we need to be able to determine how many household can both afford and fit. Our estimate is that a maximum of four people could fit into a one-bedroom home comfortably.

Based on 2011 Census data, only 118,133 of all households living in the city, or 11% could both afford and fit into a one-bedroom property. If we break the number of households down by race, the results are staggering: Black African households who can both afford and fit represent only 1% of all households in the city; likewise Coloured households represent 2.2%; Indian households represent 0.3%; and White households represent 7.3%. It demonstrates the extraordinary exclusion of the majority of residents from the housing market, which is most acutely felt by black (Black Arican, Coloured and Indian) households.

The basis for Ndifuna Ukwazi’s objections is the Spatial Planning Land Use Management Act of 2013 (SPLUMA), which establishes a set of compulsory principles applicable in every land use decision. These principles are spatial justice, spatial sustainability, and spatial efficiency.

The principle of spatial justice, in particular, is consistent with the Constitution’s transformative aspirations. It aims to address spatial imbalances by improving access to land. Land use decisions must address the colonial and apartheid era dispossession and exclusion of black people, and provide new opportunities today.

To date, the City of Cape Town has not implemented their statutory obligations. This means a core legislative principle that should be at the heart of all planning approvals has not been realised practically in land use management on individual applications.

Both the City and the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) are mandated to redress spatial imbalances and empowered to impose conditions that mitigate against exclusionary developments. One way to do this would be for the City to ask for a fair and proportional contribution from developers towards affordable housing. To date, both city planners and the MPT have refused to do this, arguing mainly that there is a lack of policy guidelines.

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Internationally, cities have passed inclusionary housing policies to secure a fair and proportionate contribution towards affordable housing on-site (in the development), off-site (on well-located state owned land), or as a fee in lieu in exchange for the value unlocked through the granting of land use rights.

To address this, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development (TDA), Brett Herron, has committed to bringing a policy to Council as a matter of urgency. Last week, the City’s Mayoral Committee approved a concept document on inclusionary housing, which now opens the way for engagement.

While the TDA is in the process of drafting policy, it is not certain. Some politicians and officials seem adamant to shut down the inclusive agenda that the TDA has embarked on in the belief that a policy would be damaging to the property and development industry. This would be a mistake.

A good inclusionary housing policy would, in fact, stimulate density and new development in well-located areas and along transport corridors. This could be done by creating a density overlay zone in the current by-law, which would grant additional rights as an incentive in exchange for affordable housing. Developers would be able to build higher and denser as long as this is more inclusive.

This would only work if the inclusionary housing policy was responsive to the ebbs and flows of the property market and across different areas. A blanket percentage would not work. So, for example, in areas where the value of land is high and the market is hot, the contribution would be higher. In areas which are well-located but have less hot markets, the City could increase the incentive but reduce the contribution.

An inclusionary housing policy should not be punitive, and the contribution could be paid for through any additional profits, efficiencies in the planning application system, and the ability to negotiate down land costs.

An effective inclusionary housing policy would dovetail with and help to unlock the City’s significant stock of smaller parcels of land for social housing that it is unable to develop itself due to the small economies of scale. Inclusionary housing, could be the very mechanism that is needed to advance inclusive transport orientated development.

It is clear that a change in the by-law and a policy is needed urgently to create certainty and manage the significant risks that must be navigated in the current economic environment. Further delays from the Mayoral Committee and within Council present the greatest risk to the industry.

Policy would be preferable but it is not required for the City and MPT to impose conditions to secure affordable housing.

It is up to developers to justify how their development complies with principles of spatial justice, and why a condition for affordable housing should not be imposed.

In a ruling on an appeal to the development application for Zero2One skyscraper, Mayor Patricia De Lille, after seeking the opinion of senior counsel, confirmed that the City and the MPT can impose conditions for the contribution of affordable housing in private developments without having a City policy in place.

According to the mayor’s ruling, a condition for a fair and proportionate contribution towards affordable housing in a private development can be imposed if three requirements from section 100 of the City of Cape Town’s current Municipal Planning By-Law are met, namely, the condition must be: 1) objective; 2) reasonable; and 3) “arise from the proposed use of the land”.

If it is undisputed that a development is spatially unjust, and the City and MPT has the power to fix the problem, neither the developer nor the City or MPT can ignore the problem. Approving a spatially unjust application with no reasonable justification or attempts to fix the problem is unlawful. This opens up the decision to be reviewed in the courts.

Depending on how you view the situation, this poses a choice for developers: Wait for policy to be passed, which will provide more clarity for what is expected from developers; or preempt policy and possible delays by submitting applications which include a fair and proportionate contribution of affordable housing now.

There are four good criteria to think about when considering whether a housing project in the private sector advances spatial justice. It must promote equal opportunity to black households, be truly affordable based on income, be well-located and use the right mechanism to ensure it is retained in perpetuity (which means it stays affordable in the long term).

There is now an opportunity for developers to make sure that an inclusionary housing policy works for them not against them, to explore ways to build affordable housing feasibly, and to contribute towards an inclusive, efficient and sustainable property developments that bring both economic and social returns for the industry and our city for generations to come.

By Jonty Clogger and Jared Rossouw

Barclays and UK government plan £1bn housing fund

Bank chairman John McFarlane says fund will address ‘vital need’ for new homes

Barclays and the UK government have revealed plans for a £1bn fund to help property developers meet what the bank’s chairman calls a “vital need” for new homes, including social housing and retirement homes.

The UK bank will commit £875m to a new Housing Delivery Fund, alongside £125m from Homes England, the government’s national housing agency. Small and medium-sized house builders and developers will be able to take loans of between £5m and £100m to fund their projects, with a loan-to-value ratio of up to 70%.

The goal is to diversify the housing market, Barclays said in its statement on the fund, adding that almost two-thirds of homes are currently built by just 10 companies. The fund will be open to existing Barclays clients as well as new customers and will prioritise builders of social housing, retirement homes and homes for private rental.

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The interest rate of the loans was not disclosed, but Barclays said they would be “competitively priced”.

Barclays chairman John McFarlane said: “There is a vital need to build more good quality homes across the country. This £1bn fund is about helping to do exactly that by showing firms in the business of house building that the right finance is available for projects that help meet this urgent need.”

James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to not only get more homes built but also promote new and innovative approaches to construction and design that exist across the housing market.”

Then-housing secretary Sajid Javid launched Homes England in January as the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency.

The government has set a target of delivering an average of 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s. Its housing white paper, published in February 2017, described the UK’s housing market as “broken”.

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In her foreword to that paper, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote that the government’s goal is to “fix this broken market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future”.

May went on: “The starting point is to build more homes. This will slow the rise in housing costs so that more ordinary working families can afford to buy a home and it will also bring the cost of renting down.”

She added that diversifying the housebuilding market would involve “opening it up to smaller builders and those who embrace innovative and efficient methods”.

Tim Burke 

48-hour ‘bamboo bungalow’ plan launched to tackle housing shortage in Nigeria

The Nigerian state of Lagos has announced a plan to address its shortfall of 2 million homes by building “48-hour bungalows” out of bamboo, a versatile and abundant resource in Nigeria.

Promoting the idea, the state’s commissioner for housing, Gbolahan Lawal, said the technology has already been trialled in the western coastal town of Badagry and would soon be extended to the north-eastern settlement of Imota.

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“We want to see how to go into the manufacturing of homes. We want to make it seamless and produce about 100 units in a month,” he is quoted as saying by local media.

He said his commission had already hired three companies for the initiative, one of which was already on site, and that a training programme had begun to ensure there were enough workers to carry it out.

Lagos State needs another 2 million homes to adequately house its population (Abd Ahmeed/Creative Commons)

The commission hopes to set up manufacturing businesses to feed into the scheme, providing tiles, electronics and meters for water and electricity.

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In terms of the main building materials, Mr Lawal said that experiments with clay and wood had ended and that the preferred material in future would be bamboo owing to its low price and relative abundance.

Alongside the technological development, the government has spent the past 14 months drafting a housing policy to regulate the state housing ministry.

Lagos’ housing difficulty form a small part of Nigeria’s overall problem. Reliable figures are hard to come by, but a survey in 2012 estimated that the country lacked 17 million homes, and a report at the end of August suggested that could since have risen to 25 million units, indicating that a large proportion of Nigeria’s 186 million people are affected.


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