Property lobby body says more work needed beyond housing strategy

The British Property Federation has called for the government to encourage institutional investors to build new homes for rent.

The organisation, which represents property firms in the UK, said that action on institutional housing investment was the only way to tackle the UK’s current housing crisis.

Speaking to an influential committee of MPs yesterday, Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the BPF said the government needed to identify large-scale opportunities for investment, and then encourage institutional investors.

Fletcher said: “Releasing public sector land could help solve the issue of scale. The vast majority of public land is held by local authorities, and there needs to be greater clarity on its release. Negotiating often complex and long-term deals with local authorities can be difficult, and perhaps the HCA could be introduced as an honest broker in tricky negotiations.”

The government housing strategy, launched yesterday, included both a pledge to reform stamp duty rules around bulk purchases and the design of Real Estate Investment Trusts in order to increase investment in homes for rent.

In addition it said the government will consult shortly on further moves to encourage the sector, and set up a new committee, led by Berkeley chair Tony Pidgley, to smooth the release of public sector land.

Fletcher added: “Another vehicle that could encourage institutional investors and boost housing supply is residential REITs. They’d provide an obvious entrance into the market and an exit strategy, but officials are being a bit over cautious, particularly around issues such as the ability of a REIT to trade. Further discussions are required with the Treasury.”