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Article > Military to Jump Housing Queue

Article kindly provided by Julie Ford

Hemel Landlord Property Network
07904 288188

Back in May of this year the government announced that housing for military families would be addressed under the Military Covenant this would include plans to give military personnel priority in the Governments FirstBuy scheme, where purchasers receive equity loans from the government and house builders, leaving them with a smaller deposit to find.

Families of currently serving personnel and the recently retired can benefit from a £400million nationwide FirstBuy programme - which aims to help 10,000 families overall buy a home.In the last few days this pledge has taken a huge step forward with the Housing Minister Grant Shapps has proposed a change in the law which would mean local councils would have to give housing priority to military personal including veterans and their families.

A source in the Department for Communities and Local Government said there was a need to make sure members of the armed forces received "proper treatment everywhere. "This included "a right to go on the waiting list and a right to proper priority," the source said. Currently, local authorities are only obliged to give "reasonable preference" to certain groups applying for social housing.

The planned change in the law, is expected to apply to veterans and their families as well as current serving members of the armed forces. Councils will, under the proposed legislation, have to show that military families are "not disadvantaged" when preparing criteria for allocating social housing. The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, has implied that he may assign a specialist government minister to deal with Britain’s military families.

Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership already have a policy in place which allocates a % of its annual letable housing stock to military families Birmingham and Barnet local councils have already implemented a similar scheme and will be held up as examples of councils who are already trying to put troops first. Earlier this year, Birmingham council said it was building new homes exclusively for injured ex-servicemen and women. In Barnet, returning troops will find it easier to get social housing after the council announced it was changing its allocation policy. Those who have lived in Barnet for six months before enlisting will be given special status which will push them up the housing waiting list.

With around 223,000 Regulars and 180,000 reserves currently serving in the 3 combined UK forces will this increase the pressure already being widely felt by the housing market. The main problem faced by ex-service men and women when it comes to finding a home after leaving the military is the obvious lack of employment, neither mortgage companies nor lettings agents will entertain a person who has no income, even though they may have savings this is still no guarantee for lenders or landlords alike.

Currently local councils are reluctant to offer financial assistance to veterans as they often do not meet the criteria as they have savings of £16,000 or more than the government cut off level and with the average deposit of 20% needed for a mortgage many retired servicemen are left with nowhere to live.

The new proposals from the government would see many more military families offered homes across the UK ahead of others who have been on the waiting list for months or even years. We should be doing more to support our troops and this step is a positive one, however at what cost will this be to the housing market as a whole, there isn’t currently enough housing for the people on council waiting lists, one option maybe to utilise the MOD housing which is currently sitting empty on military housing estates across the country.

In the early 1990s empty homes owned by the MOD became a national scandal. Thousands of homes for service people were left empty causing public outrage at a time of record homelessness Now in 2011 with unemployment at an all-time high and a lack of housing stock it is shocking to discover that the military’s housing vacancy rate is as bad as ever. With a housing stock of 50,000 Service family homes in the UK, there is an estimated 9000 empty homes on abandoned bases, if these unused properties where renovated and put back into the housing pool this would surely go a small way to reducing the problem of homeless veterans and help ease to pressure on local councils to find housing for an increasing number of retirering service men and women.



About the Author

Julie Ford runs the Hemel Landlord & Property Network

The network is predominately designed for landlords and property investors, we offer advice and guidance on all aspects of buying, selling, renting and managing your property, whether you are a 1st time landlord or a seasoned investor The Hemel Property Network has all the tools you need to help you make the most of your investment.

We meet Last Thursday of the Month, at 19:00 and encourage our guests to arrive early so that you can get to know your fellow property networkers.

Next HLPN Meeting : 24th November 2011 - 19:00

Venue : Holiday Inn Express - Apsley Lock - Stationers Place, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP3 9RH



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