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Opinion: One home, one person

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Opinion: One home, one person

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Regulation

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Image: Housing via Shutterstock

Confirming the widespread view that Jon Land is the only sane journalist at 24housing, our reporter Max Salsbury makes the most radical suggestion of all.

We’re in the grip of a housing crisis with 250,000 homes needed every year for the next quarter of a century. That’s a pretty frightening 6,250,000 units.

According to the 2011 census, there are just over 23 million homes in England and Wales, while the population is estimated at around 55.5 million. Bottom line: I suspect there are actually enough houses to go around – or very nearly. And my 1:1 solution will do the rest. More on that in a bit.

Sadly, because this country is borderline insane we are encouraged to pour our pounds, blood and other clichés into the cold brick shells in which we dwell. Think of all those with their second, third, fourth homes, or the private landlords with their immense property empires, with profit often beating quality. The notion that people might just be grateful to have somewhere to live and call their own is ridiculous – homes are crates of gold that must rise in value yearly, else all is lost and you have failed.

So I propose a solution that will solve the housing crisis in a single stroke: One home, one person. I don’t mean only one person can live in a house. That would be silly and actually make the situation even worse. I’m saying you can only have one house. I am painfully aware that such a policy (apart from tearing the fabric of British society into a billion pieces) would be incredibly hard to draw up and enforce. But not impossible.

How would you apply it? How about, when a citizen turns 16, she or he is given a ‘house licence’, allowing them access to one house, and one house only?

How would this apply to couples? Simple. Partners retain their right to own their individual homes but they can’t both live at one while renting out the other. If a couple want two homes, then they absorb the full financial burden of both.

In my opinion - which is very often incorrect - a home is one of life’s essentials. It’s not a luxury. It’s like water. Everyone should have access to clean water, right? So why are we so confused and selfish when it comes to housing?

Give those with multiple homes 10 years to sell off all of their property – or the state will simply take it and sell it for them. I am offering my services. The sudden excess of property would see property prices plummet, allowing those who currently have as much hope of buying a home as I have of becoming president of the CIH a genuine chance of getting their own home. [Ed’s note: Any reader who proposes Max as the next CIH president will have their subscription automatically cancelled.]

And what about those who don’t want to own their own home? Fine. This is where the social sector comes sweeping in to fill the void. Besides, think how many people might leave social housing if property prices fell dramatically.

Here’s my to do list (but please no violence):

• Only British citizens to be allowed a ‘house licence’ which means no foreign investors buying up property. Imagine seeing the market for £2 billion one-bed apartments in central London built solely for super-rich foreign oil magnates collapsing into the dust; all those homes used rarely if ever by mysterious billionaires who live thousands of miles away being returned to their proper use. So sad!
• Go to war on empty properties. No one living in your home? Sell it sharpish or have it taken away. Homes are too precious to sit and rot.
• Build ample student accommodation near universities.
• Hit the rich who have rarely used additional homes at the beach and elsewhere with massive council tax hikes.
• Allow only housing associations and councils to own vast housing stocks.
• Stop treating houses like they’re gold mines. Abandon the stress of watching the mad, oscillating world of house prices. Be grateful you’ve got a flipping roof over your head. Millions haven’t.

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