A week in housing


If we think we’ve got problems with empty homes in the UK (200,000 at the last count) spare a thought for the Japanese – they’ve got eight million of ‘em!

Having said that, the authorities over there appear to be trying to seriously address the crazy issue – by giving deserted properties away to young people to help get them on the housing ladder.

According to the Evening Standard article from which I’m pulling all this, rural Japanese homes have been abandoned at a massive rate as land types have departed for jobs in cities.

And the problem is apparently set to worsen: by 2065, Japan’s population is predicted to drop from 127 million to 88 million, meaning there’ll be even more homes no one needs anymore.

Anyway, the ‘akiya scheme’ sees young families offered abandoned homes for free or at massive discounts, with the plan being that increasingly deserted towns can be revitalised. Sensible stuff.

Now, what chance we could engineer a similar scheme to bring our 200,000 empty homes back into use, perhaps even doing something about the infamous row of rotting mansions in Hampstead, as a step towards addressing the ridiculous situation of 300,000 currently homeless people living in the world’s sixth largest economy? I’ll give you a clue: none.


And what about the houses we actually are managing to build? Well, according to a story at that bastion of truth and accuracy Mail Online, hundreds of new homes are in danger of crumbling to dust because of sub-standard concrete.

An investigation has discovered weak mortar that doesn’t abide by the National House Building Council’s (NHBC) recommended standard on at least 13 estates.

The NHBC recommends one-part cement to 5.5 parts sand – but tests revealed that the mortar in one of the affected homes contained three times as much sand as suggested.

And, apparently, developers are forcing homeowners to sign gagging orders if they want to claim compensation on their disintegrating properties.

I’m going to follow this story up next week and try to put some meat on the bones, as they say, but for now I seem to have run out of time.

In the meanwhile, I should provide you with a link to this harsh tale – but it’s Mail Online, innit, so no chance.


Moving on, here are three excellent events that HQN have coming up which I’ve written about in the English language. And today there’s a film theme…

Practical Magic. Remember it? I think it had that woman in it, and another woman, and was rubbish. Please help me fill in the gaps.

Anyway, our Practical Magic event is going to be an extremely enlightening day that focuses on the tech that housing providers can be using right now to improve their services, as they embrace digital transformation. Along with a wealth of big tech firms, Amazon Web Services will be in attendance – and will be making a BIG announcement that you won’t want to miss.

Bookety-book here.

Now, Pitch Perfect. It’s a film all right, but I haven’t seen it. I’m guessing it’s about either singing (as in ‘perfect pitch’) or a sport (as in ‘a perfect pitch). Please help me fill in the gaps.

Anyway, our Pitch Perfect event will scrutinise shared ownership: why isn’t it more popular? The day will also seek to demystify shared ownership’s fogged windscreen, as well as looking at building a consistent national message.

Read more and book by clicking this world wide web hyperlink that I have made for you.

Wait! That last link was for the London event. We’re holding one in Manchester, too, which can be booked here.

Compliance Plus. OK, it’s not a film – but it should be! Will Smith and Les Dennis are, respectively, a Chicago detective and Cornish pig farmer who are forced to work together after terrorists steal some important jam jars…please help me fill in the gaps.

Anyway, our Compliance Plus event is all about that ever-bane of right-wing journalists everywhere, health & safety – more accurately, housing association and health & safety.

To find out lots of important things I haven’t mentioned and book your place, click this bit of text to magically transported across the internet to somewhere else.



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