A region of vacant rentals: numbers rise

HOUSING

The number of vacant houses in the Mendrisiotto district is increasing again, with 1,400 - The municipality of Balerna has recorded the highest growth in the last year, while Mendrisio has recorded a slight decrease

A region of vacant rentals: numbers rise
© CdT/Gabriele Putzu

A region of vacant rentals: numbers rise

© CdT/Gabriele Putzu

Let’s talk about the number of empty houses and the trends that, in some places more than in others, seem to be unstoppable. The data recently published by the Federal Office of Statistics (updated to June 1, 2021) confirms this, establishing a new record in Ticino as far as vacancies are concerned: there are 7,017 unoccupied houses in the Canton, equal to 2.83% (in mid-2020 there were 6,639, or 2.71%).

The new survey showed three localities exceeding the 7% threshold of empty homes. Two of them are in the Mendrisiotto: Chiasso with 7.17% (up from 6.51%) and Balerna with 7.05% (a year ago 4.29%). Furthermore, Vacallo is close to this rate with 6.99% of houses with no tenants. It is therefore not surprising that Mendrisiotto has a vacancy rate of 4,60%. By way of contrast, the district of Lugano is at 2.98%, Locarno 2.11%, Bellinzona 3.40%, Riviera 1.95% and Leventina 2.02%.

The district of empty houses: the numbers continue to rise

Like an uninhabited country

The absolute figures are more representative of the problem than the percentages. In Chiasso there are 392 empty houses, in Balerna 142 and in Vacallo 135. Calculating that the average occupancy of an apartment is about 2.2 people (as Gianluigi Piazzini, president of CATEF, the Ticino Association of Property Owners, explained to us a year ago), this means that in Chiasso there is space for about 860 people, in Balerna and Vacallo for about 300. And in the entire Mendrisiotto area for over 3,000 people; like an entire medium-sized municipality (Coldrerio or Riva San Vitale for example).

The most significant leap in the last year, in terms of the region, was made by Balerna. There the number of vacant houses rose from 86 to 142. For mayor Luca Pagani, the increase in vacancies may be linked to several factors: «We haven’t done an in-depth analysis, but it is certainly the construction activity in Balerna that plays a role. We are an attractive location and real estate developers are investing a lot in us, there are many new housing units, in fact the number of building permits issued is very high». After having always decreased in recent years, the population has started to increase again - adds Pagani, who finally points out two further elements -. We are also noticing a great internal mobility, arrivals and departures are frequent, and a transfer of population from older houses to newer ones, more functional for families, for example. Our impression, however, is that the new homes are being occupied fairly quickly.»

Centers and suburbs, south and north

Returning to the regional ranking, considering the podium occupied by Chiasso, Balerna and Vacallo, after them respectively Morbio Inferiore with 5.35% of empty spaces, Mendrisio with 4.14%, Coldrerio with 4.07%, Novazzano with 2.93%, Riva San Vitale with 2.85%, Stabio with 2.46%, Castel San Pietro with 1.20%, Brusino with 0.78% and Breggia with 0.34%.

If we look at the data we can immediately see that the Lower Mendrisiotto is more affected by vacancies and that the suburbs (valleys and hillside towns) still have a very small number of empty houses. A similar trend can be seen in the Lugano area: the City (in Lugano the percentage of empty houses is 3.81%) and the neighboring municipalities have higher vacancy rates than the rest of the district.

Comparing the data with those of the past, the most striking thing is the decrease in the number of empty houses in three municipalities: Riva San Vitale, Novazzano and Mendrisio. In the main town, in recent years, there have been many apartments available for students and the opening of the new SUPSI campus may have played a fundamental role.

The market and prices

Is the increase in vacancy bringing with it a decrease in rents? We questioned professionals in the sector who explained to us how Mendrisiotto differs from the rest of the canton and the country, where rental costs are increasing. In the district these costs are stable or slightly decreasing, because the real estate market is very different from that of other Ticino regions, more touristic. Here the houses are almost all primary residences. However, it must be said that the demand for secondary houses is increasing, thanks to the local tourism linked to Covid.

©CdT.ch - Riproduzione riservata

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