Action now needed to fix ‘broken’ housing sector

Action now needed to fix ‘broken’ housing sector

The latest government proposals for the future of the housing sector have been praised as ‘bold and brave’ by industry leaders, though they warn that action is now needed to follow through and fix the ‘broken’ sector.

The new strategy for England, unveiled in a Housing White Paper on Tuesday 7 February, provides councils with powers to pressurise developers to start building on land they own.

10 Things Sajid Javid’s Housing White Paper Has Actually Told Us

Ministers have also promised to make renting more “family friendly” with longer tenancies.

The government says at least 250,000 new homes are needed each year and developers need to “get real” to the scale of the challenge.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, set out the measures, including:

  • Forcing councils to produce an up-to-date plan for housing demand
  • Expecting developers to avoid “low-density” housing where land availability is short
  • Reducing the time allowed between planning permission and the start of building from three to two years
  • Using a £3billion fund to help smaller building firms challenge major developers, including support for off-site construction, where parts of buildings are assembled in a factory
  • A “lifetime ISA” to help first-time buyers save for a deposit
  • Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”
  • Introducing banning orders “to remove the worst landlords or agents from operating”
  • Starter homes, championed by former Prime Minister David Cameron, will be aimed at households with combined incomes of less than £80,000, or £90,000 in London

But there will be a change in focus from starter homes to “a wider range of affordable housing”.

Mr Javid says, “With prices continuing to skyrocket, if we don’t act now, a whole generation could be left behind. We need to do better, and that means tackling the failures at every point in the system.

“The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live.”

At the same time, the British Property Federation and Savills have launched a new report ‘Unlocking the Benefits and Potential of Build to Rent’, which for the first time seeks to understand the sector’s progress, potential and policy recommendations to support its growth.

The evidence gathered in this report shows that on large urban sites, well connected to employment markets, Build-to-Rent can accelerate house building three-fold.

If this can be achieved on, for example, just one fifth of the large sites that are currently being built out, that equates to additional delivery of 6%.

Relative to the 164,000 new homes completed in England in 2015/16, this is around an additional 10,000 homes per annum. Together with the level of supply expected to be completed over the next three years, this would equate to circa 15,000 Build-to-Rent homes per annum. This would result in a total of 240,000 homes being built by 2030.

Also in the news, Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) are today moving into a new era, altering their emphasis from industry facing licensing to consumer protection with the launch of Propertymark.

Britain’s build-to-rent explosion

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive, and Mark Hayward, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive, said: “Having a home is the most important issue for consumers and our members are there to protect and guide people with their property transactions. At present customers don’t know where to go for advice or can’t be sure if they are dealing with a professional. We are changing this. We will reach out to customers directly so they recognise Propertymark and understand that by using a Propertymark Protected agent they and their money are safe.”

“Propertymark is a stamp of approval for consumers when they seek professional property expertise in buying, selling, renting, leasing, or valuing a property. It stands for protection for the consumer, and offers the highest standards and qualifications among property professionals. Propertymark Protected agents have opted for regulation in an unregulated sector, and provide reassurance for consumers as well as protection against rogue operators.”

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