Sunday, February 8, 2015

Seoul to tap into vacant homes pool

If there's no shortage of residences in Seoul, the city wants to make rents more affordable for low income households, and to reduce the number of vacant homes.

Seoul is full of 'villas' on the verge of collapse. Landlords don't want to invest in renovations for residences that have little potential, and they are afraid to take tenants, because the only ones who'll accept to move in are the weakest and the most likely to fail.

The city proposes to intervene at both ends by supporting the renovation, and by taking part in the recruitment of residents. Tenants will pay 80% of the market price, and enjoy stability through a 6 year contract, landlords will have their tenants vetted by the district office, and receive money for 50% of the remodeling cost, up to KRW 20M (homes have to have been vacant for more than 6 month). At the core of the system, dedicated social enterprises, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations - light structures Seoul has been advocating for years. Korea Social Investment will also provide affordable loans to landlords.




Beyond these one-to-one measures, I think Korea should promote condominiums through regulations that ensure their sustainability. If France's 'co-propriete' system is far from perfect, condos are bound to maintain and to renovate on a regular basis, which also encourages sounder building practices in the first place. Authorities and watchdogs try to help the system remains transparent and fair, and bad management less pervasive.

There's a fantastic room for improvement for many Seoul neighborhoods covered with 3-to-5-story condos that are more affordable than apartments, but often very poorly maintained. 

Seoul Village 2015
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