Handy Houses

Since 2017, De Ideale Woning, active in 22 municipalities in and around the city of Antwerp, offers Handy Houses. They are vacant, heavily outdated social houses, of which the urgent and far-reaching renovation is financially no longer feasible. The financing provided by the Flemish government for a social housing company is insufficient to adjust the house to the current regulations regarding living comfort and energy performance.

Whereas previously these houses were sold publicly, and they thus disappeared from the social supply, De Ideale Woning decided from now on to lease these houses through a long-term lease for a period of 70 years, and renewable to 90 years. This means the Handy House remains the property of De Ideale Woning, but the right in rem is transferred to the 'buyer'. He may/must manage the house as if it were his own.

The 'buyer' pays two fees for the right in rem: a one-time entry-level remuneration and an annual ground rent. In order to guarantee the affordability of the Handy House, both fees are calculated exclusively on the basis of the land value. If the value of the land on which the house stands is for example €70.000, then the 'buyer' pays half of it (€35.000) as a one-time entry-level remuneration. The other half is paid out over 70 years. The annual ground rent amounts in this case €500. This amount is indexed annually. The land value of the first nine Handy Houses varies between €36.000 and €70.000, which means the entry-level remuneration varies between €18.000 and €35.000, and the annual ground rent between €257 and €500. This means that the 'buyer' can enjoy a private home for a very low fee and for a very long period.

A renovation obligation is linked to the leasehold. The purpose is to re-establish the property within a period of five years with the Flemish housing regulations. This means that 'buyers' on top of the fees also need to invest in thorough renovation. For the first nine Handy Houses, the cost for a minimal renovation varies between €8.400 and €62.300. In order to reduce the cost of the works, they can carry out the works themselves. De Ideale Woning supports, supervises and monitors the renovation works, and informs the 'buyers' about possible subsidies. In addition 'buyers' can, with the approval of De Ideale Woning, carry out additional work to adapt and arrange the house to their own taste.

The leasehold can be transferred to children and grandchildren, insofar as they also meet the conditions to qualify for a social house. To prevent speculation, it has been decided that the Handy House can only be resold to De Ideale Woning. In that case, De Ideale Woning pays back the entire a one-time entry-level remuneration, supplemented by the value of the investments for the renovation after depreciation.

The formula appears to be a success. For the first nine Handy Houses offered in Antwerp, more than 400 families have applied. By 2023 De Ideale Woning wants to ‘sell’ a total of 85 Handy Houses in this way.

European Responsible Housing Awards 2019

Modalidad Fair financing for housing affordability

Dirección Florent Cootmansplein 19
2600 - Antwerp