New rules have gone through, making it possible to convert disused offices into homes without planning permission.
It is thought that a number of former offices could now be turned into private rental blocks.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “New permitted development rights will enable offices to be converted to homes. This is an opportunity for office owners and developers to bring outdated and underused buildings back to life and create much-needed new housing.”
However, 17 local authorities have opted out of the three-year planning exemption.
Eleven are in London: the City of London, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea.
Outside London, they are: Vale of the White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford (Kent), the district councils of Sevenoaks, and East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council.
One organisation looking to turn former offices into homes is Essential Living, which is planning an office-to-residential conversion in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
The London-based firm, which has American backing to the tune of $500m from M3 Capital Partners, plans to deliver 5,000 private rental units over a decade.
Later this year, the Government will consult on similar plans to turn redundant shops and farm buildings into homes.