These points which have been gathered from Housing Crisis meetings in communities across Wales and from several campaign groups working on the issue to address the current situation and should inform the debate.
These groups include; Cymdaithas yr Iaith, Undod, Gorau i Gymru, Shelter Cymru and Plaid Cymru.
Pwyntiau a gasglwyd o gyfarfodydd Argyfwng Tai mewn cymunedau ledled Cymru ac o sawl grŵp ymgyrchu sy’n gweithio ar y mater i fynd i’r afael â’r sefyllfa bresennol a dylent lywio’r ddadl.
Mae’r grwpiau hyn yn cynnwys; Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Undod, Gorau i Gymru, Shelter Cymru a Phlaid Cymru.
- Declare a housing emergency with immediate effect and address the issues which are preventing local residents being able to rent or buy property within their own communities.
2. Improve both urban and rural housing stock. Create ‘green’ high quality housing, using refurbishment and new build methods in accordance with senedd environmental and social objectives.
3. A mass campaign of social house building by the state, in the form of classic, high quality, low carbon state owned council houses. There must be 14k homes a year minimum, avoiding greenfields. 100% of all housing is to be social housing or truly affordable, with the complete removal of the market from housing.
4. Instead, houses are to be built and renovated through direct labour organisations.
5. Explore the provision of new housing by smaller local building firms or ‘not for profit’ companies preventing the excessive profits of national house builders in order to keep more resources within the community.
6. The decision making around housing needs to be democratic and transparent. Citizen’s assemblies may be required so social tenants and others have a direct say and role in all decisions.
7. Areas where Communities are under most housing pressure should be zoned and given extra protection via legislation for example following the Jersey model.
8. Incentives to renovate and / or build sustainable housing in terms of material and method of construction.
9. Ensure that Housing Associations put in place truly local social housing officers, who understand the housing needs of those communities.
10. In rural areas, ensure that housing lists are closed and that local people get priority.
11. Take positive steps to facilitate access to houses at a price that is accessible to the local market, including the possibility of establishing a fund to enable local authorities to develop housing with a local condition on them but on a ‘not for profit’ basis.
12. Improve efforts to ensure that truly affordable homes are available to local people to rent or to buy, including legislating to prevent the practise of ‘gazumping’.
13. Public ownership of social housing stock and underused stock to public ownership, and all ‘new builds’ to include a major element of public ownership.
14. An immediate repurposing of all empty properties. Local authorities are currently unwilling or unable to use the powers they have to do this, so the Welsh Government needs to allocate funds and strict guidelines for each local authority for this task.
15. Develop a strategic plan for housing and tourism in rural areas to counter the fact that many houses have been taken out of the locally available housing stock.
16. Encourage and prioritise local authorities and housing associations to purchase empty homes for development to meet local social housing need.
17. Property legislation to control prices.
18. An immediate rent freeze in the Private Rental Sector.
19. Managing rent prices so that they are affordable to people on local wages.
20. Immediate rent controls in the PRS, as has been done in Berlin.
21. Implement ‘rent smart’ robustly in all local authorities, and ensure that bad landlords are fined and struck off the landlord register and their properties forfeited.
Help to buy
22. Press upon the Welsh Government to limit the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme to people who have lived in the locality for a minimum number of years.
23. Penalties for refusal to let property to members of disadvantaged communities such as travellers or refugees.
24. A total ban on second homes. All second homes to be repurposed for social housing. In the short term, close loopholes which allow second homes to be used for tax breaks.
25. Ban evictions from all providers of housing. Ending homelessness is not possible without banning evictions.
26. Homelessness duties must not be discharged through the private rented sector. Housing First must be implemented through state run social housing. No more public money must be passed to landlords.
27. Adjust Planning laws in order to arrest the proliferation of holiday homes.
28. Enable local residents to build or convert unused buildings into local housing.
Second homes / Air B n B
29. Cap second home ownership as a percentage of a given community.
30. Introduce ‘Change of use’ application to prevent existing residential properties being utilised as a second home.
31. Existing second homes coming onto the market to return to the local housing stock, and banned from use as a second home or AirBnb.
32. Ban on use of any more properties for AirBnb, regardless of ownership, and any such properties coming on the market to return to local housing stock.
33. Introduce a Principal Residence Occupancy condition on new and existing properties in vulnerable communities.
34.Changing the definition of affordable housing.
35.By creating a new planning category (C5) as has been done to regulate the number of MOD properties within communities.
36.Proposals to empower councils to build houses with local conditions on them, make it easier to bring empty properties back into use and redefine the term ‘affordable home’.
37.Change the definition of affordable housing so that it is in line with the Welsh average wage of 25k.
38.Devolve planning powers, including setting housing targets, to the most appropriate local level, and require that language planning is mandatory.
39.Rewrite the national planning strategy to ensure proper oversight and that local communities are genuinely included in planning decisions.
40.Earmark all development land in areas under most housing pressure for locals only, with covenants and caps on prices. See the Community Land Trust model.
41.One Planet Development allocation for those local to that county only, with strong familial connections or resident for a certain number of years.
42.Permit local owners of agricultural land, to build homes for their families on that land, or convert derelict or unused buildings into housing (provided they can prove a local familial connection and that they have lived there for a minimum number years).
43.Change planning laws to allow the conversion of derelict or unused buildings into local housing in order to help preserve our historical rural buildings and heritage.
44.Language considerations to maintain and extend the use of Welsh as a living language to be mandatory in all planning decisions.
45.Press upon the Welsh Government to legislate to prevent home owners changing Welsh house names to English, or applying English names to new houses.
46.Press upon the Welsh Government to direct that any planning decisions (locally or at appeal stage) should take due regard to protect the Welsh Language before reaching those decisions.
47.Substantially Increase tax on second homes.
48.Allowing council to charge council tax premiums of up to 200% on second homes and having the Welsh Government bring forward regulations to treble the LTT (Land Transaction Tax) charge on the purchase of second properties.
49.Close the loophole that allows second home owners to register their property as “businesses” in order to avoid paying the council tax premium. By not allowing a property to leave the council tax system if it is a dwelling weather or not it is also a business.
New Tax / Revenue
50. Ring fence the funds generated for local housing initiatives such as Community Housing Trusts. See the Pembrokeshire example.
51. Further regulating and introducing a punitive tax on the use of houses primarily or exclusively for AirBnB, including defining the use of houses or flats as a whole as second homes or AirBnB.
52. A tax on landlords’ profits to invest in bringing empty and second homes back into use for communities and those who live and work in them.
53. Look at bringing in a licencing scheme for renting properties through companies such as AirBnB to control the amount of properties that can be used as a cash cow in popular holiday destinations where house prices are high.
54. This would ensure the quality of holiday accommodation and would be another tool to allow an element of location and electorate management, e.g. not allowing a licence in a house on an estate, or without adequate parking etc. In addition, it would offer some protection against the loss of dwelling houses from the local housing stock as a home for someone to live in.
55. Urge the Welsh Government to appropriately invest in rural communities in order to retain our young people, families and public amenities.
56. Address the obstacles preventing Welsh citizens living in their own communities. Enable citizens to live in acceptable, secure and affordable housing.
57. Commit to finding ways of retaining young people and families within our communities and entice back those who have left. Working with local successful business people, schools and colleges inspire our young people, mentor them and provide grants and loans to help them set up their businesses locally.
58. Support and retain public amenities such as schools and village halls within vulnerable communities in order to create strength and cohesion within the local population.
59. Specific supports for minority language speakers to remain in their communities and to ensure the use of empty and existing housing before new development is undertaken.
60. Establish a community land trust fund for local communities to use to buy land.