Propertymark has called for a set of standards for developers and clear guidance for local councils as a way to effectively convert empty commercial properties into affordable homes - an increasingly popular path for some bigger PRS landlords.
Responding to an inquiry from all-party parliamentary groups for ending homelessness and the housing market and delivery, the industry group warns that many conversions would not be financially viable or suitable for residential use even if a conversion was made.
Many commercial properties are also away from many of the facilities communities need, which would lead to residents being isolated.
Propertymark believes a set of clear, achievable but high standards for converted properties would prevent poor conversions that don't provide an adequate standard of living.
Its members also point to instances when planning approval is granted inconsistently. If conversions were to be feasible on a national scale, the industry body would like to see clear guidance given to local authorities so they could approve conversions more consistently.
There is a growing number of empty commercial buildings following the pandemic due to the shift away from office-based working '� an issue addressed by the Affordable Housing (Conversion of Commercial Property) Bill going through Parliament.
Henry Griffith (main picture), Propertymark's policy and campaigns officer, says although it welcomes this inquiry, it's clear that the suitability of a property for conversion must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
'Commercial properties are incredibly varied and often require substantial work in order to be suitable for residential housing,'� he adds.
'Conversions must be made with the proper regard for the quality of living and suitability of the conversion, or we would risk the creation of low-standard housing and isolated communities when there are alternative measures to increase housing supply.'�