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BPF: Govt should promote build-to-let to ease housing woes

The Government needs to support the growth of the corporate rental sector to ease the problems being faced by house builders, according to a new report by the British Property Federation.

Titled The Future of Renting, the study calls for a radical reshaping of the struggling housing market to ensure renewed investment.

The report, which follows on from the Government’s Rugg review of the private rented sector, will be presented to housing minister Caroline Flint at the federation’s annual conference in London today.

It urges the Government to:
- widen the definition of affordable housing to allow developers to build market rentals.
- give special planning treatment for rental-only developments.
- cut “unfair” stamp duty rules that penalise large investors.
- refine the REITs (real estate investment trust) structure to open it up to housing.

BPF residential director Ian Fletcher said while the build-to-let expansion had been killed off by the credit squeeze, developers wanted to see a housing sector which emulated the commercial market – with new family homes offering long term lets and built by institutions, like pension funds.

He said: "We’re in a ridiculous position where we have increasing demand yet house builders are stepping out of the market because they have nobody to sell to.

"If we had a corporate rental sector here as they do in Europe, it would not only mean continued investment and thousands of extra new homes, it would also ensure that the major house builders had someone to sell their stock to and that the public had the benefits of a branded rental sector."