Government moves to reform private rental market as part of draft legislative programme

A green paper designed to expand the private rented sector is to be launched by the communities department before the end of the year.

Terrie Alafat, director of housing strategy and support at the communities department, said the housing reform green paper announced as part of last week’s draft legislative programme would focus on reform of private rented housing.

The move follows extensive lobbying from the commercial property industry to provide incentives to encourage the growth of a professional build-to-let sector, which could increase housebuilding. It also comes as a committee of MPs release a report criticising successive governments for prioritising home ownership over rented housing.

Speaking at the Social Housing and Regeneration conference, Alafat said: “Reform of the rented housing sector is a central plank of the green paper. It will consider what barriers exist in the development of a fit-for-purpose private rented product.”

She said the green paper would take on the recommendations of York university academic Julie Rugg, who is reviewing the sector.

Part of Rugg’s remit is to ask how to “ensure a professionally managed, quality sector to meet demand pressures”.

Ian Fletcher, director of residential policy at the British Property Federation, welcomed a review of private housing, but added: “The public needs assistance now. Any legislation will take years to come through.”

Other proposals in last week’s draft legislative programme included:

  • A bill to give powers for regional planning to regional development agencies
  • The extension of proposed new social housing regulator Oftenant to cover council homes as well as housing associations.