With the general election campaigning in full swing one thing is certain – whoever gets the job to deal with Brexit has a tough job on their hands! Now Article 50 has been triggered, we have two years to make a deal with the EU or we will be facing a “Hard Brexit”. By refusing to assure the rights of EU citizens in the UK, Theresa May has missed the opportunity to give peace of mind to our fellow European citizens many of whom own properties or rent in and around Colchester (and across the UK). Whatever your politics if you don’t think a hard Brexit will affect you, or your home in Colchester, think again:
Of the 167,080 people resident in the Colchester Borough Council area, 149,626 were born in the UK, 4,064 were born in EU countries from western Europe and 2,018 were born in EU countries from the former Soviet States in eastern Europe with the remainder born elsewhere around the world.
Understandably the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, along with the rights of UK citizens living across Europe, is top priority for the EU negotiators. All EU citizens who have acquired rights relating to the right to live, work, own a business, possess a property, access health and education services and remain in a UK after retirement are all now subject to re-negotiation.
How Would a Hard Brexit Affect the Colchester Property Market?
It’s the “nuclear option”. In a worst case scenario it could mean every EU citizen would have to leave the UK. However unlikely this seems to you (and I don’t personally believe that’s going to come to that) for EU citizens living in Colchester (I’ve spoken to more than a few about this) it is very worrying and they want the uncertainty resolved as soon as possible so they can get on with their lives and plan for the future.
In the Colchester Borough area, 2,347 of the 4,064 western European EU citizens own their own home and (so they would all need to be sold) 1,354 of the 2,018 eastern European EU citizens rent a property, which would all come onto the Colchester housing market.
Hard Brexit and mass EU migration could mean around 1,800 properties flood onto the Colchester housing market over a short period of time. This would most likely cause a significant drop in Colchester property values and monthly rental fees, which in turn could lead to negative equity for thousands of Colchester homeowners and many buy-to-let landlords.
The success of the UK and Colchester property market has been built on high levels of home ownership. Over the last ten to fifteen years the growth of the rental sector has been driven, to a significant extent, by demand from eastern Europeans coming to Colchester (and the surrounding area) to work locally and provide for their families. Many Colchester people have also invested their life savings in buy to let properties.
Hopefully the Brexit negotiation teams, on both sides, will take their responsibilities seriously and arrive at the best possible (least worst?) deal for all Europeans in a timely manner. Certainly, unilateral knee-jerk reactions and measures caused by a hard Brexit would, not only, cause major disruption or suffering to the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, but also everyone who owns property in the UK. A hard Brexit isn’t in anyone’s interests so I’m hoping the politicians come up with Brexit Lite or some other pragmatic and practical alternative we can all live with.
If you have any thoughts about how a hard Brexit could affect the Colchester property market, or any aspect of the Colchester property market, please add your comments below, email me via firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring on 01206 862288 – I’d love to hear from you.