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We need real action on housing – says BPF

Under the scheme, housing associations can buy homes from people struggling to pay their mortgage, allowing them to remain in their property by paying rent. Alternatively they can provide equity loans to help cut their mortgage costs, although the loan will still have to be paid back in the future.

“It’s the attitude of ‘get a home now, pay for it later’ that got us into this mess in the first place,” he said.

The BPF also called for ministers to engage with the commercial property sector to develop a branded rental sector and said that housing support payments should go back to being made directly to landlords.

“If we’re looking at keeping people who cannot afford mortgages on their homes by turning them into renters, then it makes perfect sense to encourage a larger, more professionalised rental market that will be there to help people in the future.

“Getting people on to the housing ladder who could not afford to be there is what’s got us into this mess and there’s simply no easy way out. Many housing associations are in trouble and face similar problems to private house builders who have bought land at the top of the market and now can’t do anything with it. It’s vital that the commercial developers, with the means to generate long-term funding streams, are brought into the debate and that we start to develop new, innovative ways of delivering housing.

“It’s vital that ministers start to see the real value in build-to-let and can work with us to make the necessary changes to allow the housing crisis to be turned around.”

“While these schemes grab the headlines, the vast majority of people who gain housing support, do so through the housing benefit system, which helps them in rented accommodation. As unemployment grows, there will be a huge increase in the numbers of people who are relying on housing benefit to pay their rent. If demand is to be met in the private rented sector, then the government should suspend the system of only paying the benefit to the tenant, which it introduced.“

Intense lobbying by the BPF on build-to-let over the last two years has been highly successful, with many influential people now discussing how rented accommodation, particularly funded by institutions and commercial property companies, can make a real contribution. Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, have both spoken about their desires to get more homes built for rent.

The build-to-let model would see homes built en-masse for professionally managed rental, akin to the commercial sector. Developers want to see rental developments treated differently from owner-occupation through the planning system and also want stamp duty to be charged on a per-dwelling basis, rather than on an entire transaction.

Key figures from across the industry are set to discuss this and other issues at the BPF’s annual residential conference on 27 January at Allen & Overy LLP at their Foster & Partners’ designed One Bishops Square offices near Liverpool Street.

Speakers include Sir Bob Kerslake and Boris Johnson’s housing director, Richard Blakeway, who will be joined by Peter Marsh, chief executive of the Tenants Services Authority. They will join Fionnuala Earley, chief economist of Nationwide, Dr Julie Rugg from the University of York, Mark Loveday from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and others.

Conservative housing spokesman Grant Shapps MP and David Pretty, who undertook the recent planning review, will address the annual residential dinner the previous evening.

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