Thursday, 19 June 2014

How much space do you have to live in - compared to the Continent? How are we taxing that space in the UK? And are you getting value for money from the estate agents?

The issues over housing seem more complicated than ever... One concern is that housing is getting smaller - and that the quality of new-build is not quite up to expectations:
Futures Forum: “We need a public that will be appalled by tiny rooms, lack of storage space, tiny windows, poor insulation."

This is from yesterday's Telegraph:

British homes are the smallest in Europe, study finds

Houses in Britain have less space than in any other European country, new research shows

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found that the UK has the smallest homes by floor space area of any European country Photo: ALAMY

By Miranda Prynne 3:56PM BST 18 Jun 2014


British families are living in some of the most cramped conditions in Europe with more than half of homes falling short of minimum modern space standards, new research has found. The study found the UK has the smallest homes by floor space area of any European country with the average new build property covered just 76sq m compared with almost double that amount of 137sq m in Denmark.

Researchers found that between a quarter and a third of people in the UK are dissatisfied with the amount of space in their homes despite many properties being classed as under-occupied when being assessed by the number of bedrooms versus the number of residents. They warned that overcrowding can lead to depression, the breakdown of relationships and physical symptoms such as asthma.

After analysing data from 16,000 English homes, the team from the University of Cambridge, found that 55 per cent of them had less floor space than the London Housing Design Guide’s internal space standard.

More than a fifth of the properties fell short of total space requirements when the number of occupants was taken into account.

Floor space in the average British property is just 85 sq m compared with 77 sq ft in Greece, 88 sq ft in Ireland and 98 sq ft in the Netherland. Flats and terraced housing most likely to be the most squeezed, according to the study.

“In extreme cases, overcrowded homes can cause physical illnesses such as asthma and mental illnesses such as depression,” Malcolm Morgan, co-author of the report said. “Less extreme cases can cause anxiety or stress, or impact on children’s social and emotional development. Lack of privacy resulting from lack of space can degrade family relationships, and prevent residents from entertaining guests and engaging in social activities in the home. People have a strong emotional reaction to spaces, and people’s perception of their homes can affect their quality of life.”

The findings undermine the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ which penalises social housing tenants who are deemed to have spare rooms, according to the researchers. With households receiving housing benefit the most likely to be undersized, the authors of the study claim the extra bedrooms are often used for other purposes due to limited space.

“When the bedroom tax was introduced, there was a lot of implication that those living in houses with spare bedrooms were doing so out of selfishness,” said Malcolm Morgan, report author. But what this research shows is that in most of the UK, you simply have to under-occupy houses in order to have an acceptable amount of living space.”

He added: “Spare bedrooms are a misconception in many homes, as the lack of space means that any extra bedrooms are needed for other uses.”

The removal of space standards in the 1980s, the high value of land and the low number of homes built by public authorities and housing associations in recent years are all cited as reasons for the lack of space in UK properties.

Mr Morgan, a PhD student at Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, said: “The amount of space in a home influences how residents live. For example, how and where people prepare and eat food, what furniture and activities can accommodated, how much privacy people have, and whether necessary changes to the environment can be made if the residents circumstances change.

British homes are the smallest in Europe, study finds - Telegraph

And from the Independent:

The poorest households are being hit hardest, with estimates suggesting that four-fifths of those affected by the Coalition’s “bedroom tax” are already forced to contend with a shortage of space, the Cambridge University study found. The findings will put pressure on the Government, which announced it was to develop a national space standard – although this will only be enforced where it does not impinge on development. 

The authors of the study – based on an analysis of 16,000 homes in England – said the findings showed the bedroom tax was “fundamentally flawed”.

The paper, in the journal Building Research & Information, said that the extent of the problem was not fully understood. Up to a third of householders were said to be unhappy with where they lived. “The majority of homes in the UK are not fully occupied and yet residents are dissatisfied with the amount of space, with lack of storage space, insufficient space for furniture and lack of space in which to socialise often cited as particular problems,” said the authors Malcolm Morgan and Heather Cruickshank.

Mr Morgan, who led the research, said many people found themselves in what was described as a three-bedroom property but which only had the floor space of a two-bedroom place under the London standards. Box rooms categorised as bedrooms were only of use as storage spaces or studies.

The bedroom tax looks at the number of bedrooms, and not at the total available space per person. But the study found that “only 19 per cent of households losing housing benefit (under the bedroom tax) could be considered to have more space than they needed.”

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