The Government has been accused of ignoring renters as it focuses on plans to increase owner occupation.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced earlier this week that national planning policy will be changed to allow developers to build and sell “starter homes” in place of affordable housing requirements. Starter homes will be sold at a 20% discount to first-time buyers under the age of 40. The government has pledged to deliver 200,000 by 2020.
But the British Property Federation (BPF) has warned that, although initiatives to create more homes for sale are welcome, high house prices and the growing number of private renters in the UK means that more must be done to encourage the purpose-built rental sector.
BPF chief executive Melanie Leech said: “Politicians talk about Generation Rent as if it is something to be ashamed of, when this should not be the case. Countries such as Germany and the USA have thriving rental markets, where people happily live in institutionally-backed, purpose-built, high quality rented accommodation for many years.
“While we are not against owner occupation, and see starter homes as a welcome initiative, we are aware that such a policy is stoking demand for home ownership, rather than focusing on meeting supply.
“Build-to-rent has enormous potential to deliver additional homes to the UK, and government must not overlook this in blind pursuit of making us a nation of homeowners.”
The BPF’s view was backed up by tenant rights group Generation Rent. The group’s policy manager Dan Wilson Craw said starter homes will do nothing for renters who are really struggling.
“Under the Prime Minister's plans only 200,000 relatively well-off households will get to buy a home. But there are 5 million households who will remain stuck in private rented housing, paying out half of their income to their landlord,” he said, “If David Cameron prioritised building social housing instead, he would finally begin to fix the affordability crisis. With lower demand for private rentals, rents would fall, and private renters could start saving for that home of their own.”