A member of the royal family is to be married this May. Hurrah. The staff at rent.works will be there en masse, lining the streets of Windsor. And we’ll be waving little paper flags, too.
Doubtless, it will be a fine patriotic day out for the entire family, and we’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one complementary barbecue.
If only there weren’t all of these pesky homeless people lying around the streets begging for food, and making people fall over them.
It’s an uncomfortable fact, and it took council leader, Simon Dudley, to point it out and urge the police to take action to keep these undesirables off the street.
Having recently visited the great cities of London, Inverness, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Perranporth, we can confirm that rough sleepers are to be found on the streets of most major UK towns*.
Local authorities try their hardest, but there just isn’t space available. We spoke to a first-line housing officer for a local council who told us she dreads desk duty on Fridays. The dozens of homeless she can’t assist will be sleeping in parks and bus shelters for the whole weekend. It niggles at her conscience.
But here’s the thing. There isn’t a housing shortage. An investigation by the Liberal Democrats uncovered last week that there are at least 11,000 houses in England and Wales which have remained unoccupied for the last 10 years. That’s enough to to take every single homeless person off the streets and give them a bed. Every night. Maybe not an entire bedroom, but we’re writing this post in the middle of Storm Eileen (technically a hurricane), and literally anything is better than being outside.
That figure doesn’t take into account the quarter million properties which have lain empty for between six months and ten years.
And local authorities which have the legal power to impose Empty Dwelling Management Orders, which give them the power to take over residential properties that have been empty for six months or more, seldom use those powers.
This isn’t our news. It’s not a rent.works exclusive. We found both stories on the front page of the BBC website. But as property experts, we feel that we ought to weigh in.
Yes. We’ll advise you on the best way to find tenants. And we’ll tell you how to get the best rental income from your property. We’ll help you kick problem tenants onto the streets. We’ll let you know the best areas to invest for maximum growth. It’s up to you if you want to keep those properties empty as you watch your investment growing.
We’re not going to give our opinion on the morality of capitalism or market forces. And we’re not going to tell landlords how to be decent human beings. You should be able to work that one out for yourselves.
And maybe a little compassion from capital would keep the streets of Windsor clear for Harry and Meghan’s big day.
That would be worth celebrating.
*On further investigation, the supposedly homeless of Perranporth were discovered to be out-of-season surfers.
Image credit: Gareth Williams