Build More Homes Now! Agency chief demands action…

The head of an estate agency and property investment firm says the government should do more to reform the rental sector and boost housing supply.

Antony Antoniou, the managing director of investment firm and estate agency Robert Irving Burns, says: “The government should be doing more to ease the housing shortage and improve the quality of our housing stock. One way to do this is to simplify the planning process and encourage the long term investment or holding of property by developers. The creation of planning classes or government assistance for properties which are Build To Rent rather than sale, would de-risk and encourage investment into this sector.

“Housebuilders are ready and able to address this challenge, but this is the first time in decades where government assistance in that sector has been taken away. The industry could grind to a halt as more and more developers go into administration (up 75% year on year) – due to skyrocketing material and energy costs, planning delays and fiscal uncertainty. The time to act is now, before we see the rise in homelessness and further tragedies unfold.”

He says that the cost of rent combined with utility bills now stands at close to two thirds of the average income, outside of London. 

Although energy prices have been capped, there is what he calls “a toxic combination” of rising costs for landlords through inflation, increasing demand as would-be buyers are priced out of the mortgage market and a lack of available stock. These have created a perfect storm in the rental market, which could see rents rise even further in the New Year, he warns.

He says he has the support of Propertymark chief executive who adds: “The biggest problem facing tenants right now is a lack of choice. They don’t have a choice of property to choose from and many are finding themselves offering higher rents in order to secure a home over fierce competition. 

“We desperately need more housing of all tenures, but we need investment into the private rental market perhaps the most, it is the second biggest tenure and is also pitted against a back drop of an underfunded social housing system meaning many private landlords actually support those who would otherwise be on the housing list.”

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