Sunday, 30 November 2008


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Towards the end of 2002, I formed a community property association to take control of some houses in the town centre and west end. We had in mind the large number of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) which had been guest houses or small hotels; they had been divided into small units and let mainly to tenants who were in receipt of state benefits.

The HMOs were a problem because they created a high density of population, and this worsened the underlying social problems caused by unemployment, alcohol and other drugs and various additional factors. Also, they were making the neighbourhood unsafe. “The more HMOs in
an area the more crime,” said the Police Inspector in charge of Rhyl.

The Association’s idea was to obtain public money to buy HMOs on the open market; they became available from time to time entirely vacant. (It was not our intention to get involved with the displacing of tenants.) The vacant HMOs would be demolished or downsized and replaced by houses suitable for small families – houses not flats.

These new homes would be for sale on a shared-ownership basis; there would be no element of renting. An occupier would arrange his/her own mortgage from a building society for 49 per cent of the value of the new property. The Association would retain 51 per cent control to prevent sub-letting. An occupier wishing to move on would sell his/her share on the open market.

Maintenance costs would be shared between the occupier and the Association in the same 49/51 ratio. The entire deal would suit people in Rhyl who were working but not earning a lot of money. (There are more of those than unemployed). The scheme would increase the number of owner-occupiers and thereby help to address the social imbalance.

The Association’s idea received a lot of public support and some encouragement from the authorities, but after a long series of meetings it became apparent that the scheme did not suit the funding streams made available by Welsh Assembly for housing purposes. The Association disbanded in the summer of 2006. The need for it – or something very like it – remains.