We Need More Houses

A recently published White Paper on the housing market in England described it as “broken”. According to the White Paper the reason for this is simple- not enough houses are being built, now and in the past and supply significantly lags behind demand. It is estimated that 160,000 new homes have been built annually in England since the 1970s but the actual supply needed to keep up with an increase in population and a historic under-supply of housing is believed to be closer to 250,000.

And it is not the lack of land to build on which is the problem, with only 11% of English land currently built on. Instead the White Paper blames the chronic under-supply of housing on three main factors namely:

  • There are not enough local authorities planning for the homes they need
  • House building is too slow
  • The construction industry is too reliant on a small number of big players

The gap between demand and supply has of course an impact on house prices. Since 1998 the ratio of average house prices to average earnings has apparently more than doubled, making home ownership unaffordable for millions of people. The Coúncil of Mortgage Lenders predicts that by 2020 only a quarter of 30 year olds will own their own home.

Scotland faces similar problems. According to industry body Homes for Scotland the total number of new houses being built in Scotland each year is still down 40% on pre-recession levels, whilst the country’s population has grown to its highest ever level.

“As Sajid Javid said, the root cause of the housing shortage is the simple fact that not enough houses have been built, and that applies equally in Scotland”,commented Nicola Barclay, Chief Executive of Homes for Scotland.

“We need to move away from thinking of housing policy  in terms of election cycles and narrowly focusing on ‘affordable housing’  and instead look at the requirements for all tenures over the next 15-20 years” she added.

“We also need to be brave about the issues that are holding housing back, like the availability of land and the provision of infrastructure, or we will never have enough homes to meet the diverse needs and aspirations of those living in Scotland” she said.

If you intend to buy or sell property in Scotland, I can help. Please contact me Marcus Downie on 0141 552 3422 or by email on marcus@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Whose Home Is It Any Way?

When a relationship ends one of the most vexing concerns for many is whether one person can force the other to leave a shared family home.

There are three typical scenarios.

  • Firstly if a couple are married or in a civil partnership and the property is owned by only one person or the tenancy is in the name of only one person, the person who owns the house or holds the tenancy has the right to stay there. That said they cannot force their spouse or civil partner to leave, as a “non-entitled” spouse or civil partner has the right to continue to live there. If the property owner wants to sell they would need to obtain the consent of their spouse or civil partner .If that consent was unreasonably withheld then a court order would be required to waive the need for consent. The only way in which a spouse or civil partner can remove a former partner is to raise a court action and seek an exclusion order. The threshold needed for success in this is very high and an exclusion order is only granted for the protection of any spouse or civil partner or child of the family. It is frequently granted in cases of domestic abuse.
  • Secondly if both parties are joint owners or tenants then both have the right to occupy the home and again neither can evict the other unless an exclusion order is obtained. If one person wants to sell and the other does not then an action of division and sale needs to be raised for the court to order a sale. The other party can ask the court to postpone or delay the sale and sometimes the court will do this if there are children of the marriage and there is no alternative accommodation.
  • Thirdly if a couple are cohabiting and only one person is the owner or tenant the other is still protected and cannot be locked out or forced to move. However the cohabitant’s right to occupy is not automatic and he or she has to have the right declared by the court with a right to occupy, if granted, only lasting for six months although the court can extend it for another six months. Where cohabitants are joint owners or tenants then neither can force the other to move out and if one party wishes to sell and the other does not then an action of division and sale will need to be raised. Unlike spouses or civil partners cohabitants do not have the same rights to ask the court to postpone or refuse a decree of sale.

If you would like advice on any of the issues raised above please contact Fiona Wayman on 0141 552 3422 or by email fhw@mitchells-roberton.co.uk.