A charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, wants a form of Right To Buy to be given to private tenants.
Right To Buy was pioneered in the 1980s by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. who introduced it for council housing tenants. It is widely regarded now as having contributed towards a shortage of housing in the wider rented sectors.
The foundation says successive governments have promised to solve the housing crisis by building more houses, while effectively ignoring the ownership pattern for the existing 25m homes across the UK.
So it says for this reason - and while landlords are reassessing the profitability of private renting in the light of upcoming reforms - it is time to “see this as an opportunity to implement policies which see homes change hands from landlords to tenants.”
The foundation claims this would help budding homeowners previously unable to access the market find affordable, secure homes and give them the chance to build wealth.
So the charity proposes that government sets a strategy for reducing the size of the private rental sector “by rebalancing the position of first-time buyers and landlords in the mortgage market and discouraging property speculation.”
It suggests this would be achieved by reviewing the regulations that govern mortgages to prioritise lending towards those looking to buy for the first time over landlords, alongside higher taxes to reduce speculation on property.
To help tenants further, it says explicitly that there should be a form of Right To Buy in the private sector, with discounts and cash incentives.
Those private landlords that battle through and remain in the sector should “receive funding to retrofit their home to high environmental standards, in return for leasing it to a housing provider to provide to tenants at lower than market rents.”
There should also be an expanding of ownership models including part-rent part-buy and Shared Ownership.
Darren Baxter, a senior policy adviser at the foundation, says: “The housing market is not working. In recent decades we have seen the rapid growth of the private rented sector alongside the decline in the proportion of households in social housing or owner occupation. Consequently, millions of people are stuck paying unaffordable rents, worried about being evicted by their landlord and have little opportunity to save.
“Right to Buy and the expansion of the private rented sector following the global financial crisis have already shown that rapid shifts in the distribution of homes are possible. Reforming the private rented sector by shifting the distribution of homes within it should be the gateway to further, fundamental reform of the housing market.
“Reforms of this type would ensure the housing market supports those looking for somewhere to call home over those seeking assets to invest in.”
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