Housing White Paper:

A change of emphasis for the Tory government, from encouraging home ownership through policy, to a new emphasis on people who rent their homes, will be signalled by the Housing White Paper released today.

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said over the weekend that there would be new minimum term tenancies, and more new homes to be built for renting, in what appears to be a reversal of Tory housing policy.

But claiming that the government had not given up making home ownership available to all, Mr Barwell indicated there would be a package of measures designed to help renters.

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These would include measures to encourage more investment in building homes for letting at an affordable rent, which he defined as at least 20% below the market rate, and councils will be encouraged to build as well.

With an estimated 4.3 million tenants in the private rental market the government appears to have accepted that more rental homes are needed, but the emphasis will be largely on encouraging institutional investment rather than helping the small-scale buy-to-let landlord.

Unless changes to the tax rules are introduced in next month’s budget, it appears that the government are largely ignoring the contribution that small-scale landlords can make to solve the housing problem.

Mr Barwell said,

“Whether you’re trying to buy or you’re trying to rent, housing in this country has become less and less affordable because for 30 or 40 years governments have not built enough homes and this White Paper is fundamentally trying to do something about that.”

It was announced in the Autumn Statement that tenants will be helped by banning letting agents from charging them letting fees, and a consultation on that will be opened soon.

Rob Warm from the National Housing Federation told the BBC that he thought many people in the rented sector are receiving a “very poor” and “insecure service”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn implied that the government should get involved in house building and landlording when he stated that the rental market was “incapable of giving people the security they need”.

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