Police Accommodation: What Are the Problems?

Published: 05th July 2007
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Nowadays there seems to be an increased demand for police mortgages, i.e. special mortgages for members of the police force. It may come as a surprise to many people to find that the police have a problem with accommodation.

Those whose memories go back 20 or so years will assume that most members of the police had accommodation provided for them. Up till the 1990s police accommodation could take the form of police houses, or section houses for unmarried officers ' usually male. Alternatively a police housing allowance was available for many officers.

However, much has changed since the 1990s with regard to police accommodation, especially in London.

' In the mid 1990s the then Home Secretary withdrew the police housing allowance. For police officers in London this was compensated for to some extent by a substantial increase in the London allowance.

' During the 1990s the practice of auctioning off police accommodation really speeded up. Some police officers who were living in police houses were left without accommodation and found that it was their responsibility to find their own.

' The problem has become especially acute in the south-east of England, with its over-heated housing market. Many members of the Metropolitan police are commuting from as far away as Portsmouth, because they can't afford to buy housing where they work. The problem in Surrey is even more acute.

It has been calculated that a police officer with five years' experience needs nine times his or her annual salary to buy a house in Surrey. Clearly under normal mortgage arrangements this is virtually impossible.

So what can police officers do about this situation? Sadly some have been driven to leave the force because of the increasing difficulty of finding suitable housing for themselves and their families. But most police officers love the job and the last thing they want to do is leave.

Fortunately there are some lenders who have recognised the problem and are increasingly ready to provide members of the force with police mortgages that are suitable for their special circumstances. If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is find an independent broker who can help you find the best product for you and your family.


Sean Horton is a Director of Police mortgage advice who offer specialist advice for police mortgages

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