While politicians continue to waxing lyrical about offers of help for the UK housing market it will take many years to even meet current demand, never mind make up for lost time. This has led to an increase in the number of so-called micro apartments amid suggestions that UK homes are now becoming smaller. So, if UK homes really shrinking, could so-called micro apartments help to solve the UK housing crisis?
Government national space standard
For many years there has been a government national space standard which dictates the minimum size of a home to be sold on the UK market. In many cases this has stopped the development of micro apartments although there is a little-known loophole which some developers have been using to their advantage.
The government regulations for space standard do not apply to office-to-residential conversions which are covered by separate regulations which came into force during 2013. There is some concern that this may impact the quality of housing in the future but, as demand for micro apartments continues to grow, this could be a very important part of the market in years to come. At the end of the day, those looking to buy micro apartments know exactly what is on offer.
There will be some scare stories in the press regarding the size of some of these micro apartments but they are built for a specific purpose and a specific clientele. These conversions have proved to be very useful for those living in city centres but unable to afford property anywhere near their working premises. There is also the opportunity to use micro apartments as a potential income earner by renting out part of the property to third parties.
Those developers focusing on micro apartments have also highlighted the change in living styles with more and more information stored digitally thereby reducing storage space requirements. For those with a minimalistic lifestyle the digital age could very well make micro apartments even more attractive. At the end of the day, if customers are demanding more of these smaller living spaces and the regulations support such an industry then surely it is just a case of matching the supplier with the buyer?
Changes in the future
The UK government introduced a housing White Paper at the start of 2017 which will review the current space standards upon which the more traditional housing market operates. There is a suggestion that the current space standards could be reduced which would again encourage smaller properties. It is unclear as to whether micro apartments would come under this new regulatory regime or whether they would operate outside of the standard regulations.
Whatever happens the UK government, whoever that may be after the election, needs to address the growing problem of UK housing sooner rather than later. It is okay waxing lyrical with promises of billions of pounds of investment but on numerous occasions politicians have been found out “spending” the same money on numerous occasions. The longer this problem goes on the longer it will take to solve because each year the UK is falling behind the required number of new builds – which is helping to push house prices higher and higher.