Thursday, April 08, 2010

Multiple occupancy

Alice and I currently live in a converted building. Originally a rather massive victorian households, it has been changed into 4 flats. Is this a bad thing? I know that many cities have made quite an issue about areas getting ruined by being converted to rent, bringing property values down. Another fear, of course, is students. Students can ruin properties; there are properties that I do not think anyone would rent unless they were students, who tend to have lower standards. Students also bring finance into an area, for example- I was often amused by local complaints about students ruining an area back in Bath, and while students can be terribly obnoxious, students tend to have a lot of spending power that they bring to an area which would probably decay otherwise.

One major issue with opposing multiple occupancy buildings is that you are discriminating against the young and the poor. The older generation all have mortgages, but getting on the property ladder in the first place involves a massive investment, especially with 90% mortgages- 10% of a property's value is not an inconsiderable sum, and without any aid from relatives, probably impossible without a consierable effort in making savings on the part of the people attempting to get such a thing. This generational discrimination is a dangerous thing, because it helps reinforce inequality- those who have parents that can pay their way are better off, espeically if there aren't enough places to rent. Many places in the UK are protected, thanks to the green belt, listed buildings, excetera, meaning that opportunities for new flats are actually quite rare. We can't have it all sometimes. We can't preserve our green spaces, our buildings, and expand. We certainly can't lower property prices while preserving property prices, as seems to be the stated goal of most politicians.

I'm sure that when I'm old and have a mortgage, I may well feel differently. I'm not sure I'll be right. I'm not sure I'm right now, but I like to think its a little less open and shut than some might be inclined to suppose.

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