The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) have responded to the Government’s Housing White Paper announcement yesterday, including its three-year tenancies plan.
David Cox, the Managing Director of ARLA, and Mark Hayward, the Managing Director of the NAEA, issued this joint statement: “We welcome today’s Housing White Paper; thinking about homes across tenures is really important and it’s reassuring that the Government is seeking a holistic view of all housing needs.
“The White Paper raises many of the significant issues the housing sector is facing. The important next step is that the industry puts forward robust solutions, and that Government listens and takes these forward to really make a difference.”
Both property experts have reacted to a series of measures announced in the White Paper, including the plan for three-year tenancies:
Supply and demand
Hayward says: “Only 32,000 affordable homes were built in 2016, and this is totally unacceptable, especially given the number of homes we really need. We’ve had years of empty promises now, and this has exacerbated the problem, resulting in the price of properties being out of reach for so many.
“The announcement the Government plans to diversify the market by opening it up to smaller builders who embrace innovative and efficient methods is great, and could go some way in helping deliver a vast number of homes quickly. However, it’s vital the Government considers the cost of building modular homes, and understands these could remain unaffordable and unsuitable for first time buyers.”
Greenbelt and ancient woodland
Hayward also comments: “We are not advocating building on ancient woodland; however, we do believe the greenbelt policy should be reappraised. Let’s not allow objections to building on the greenbelt help further deteriorate the housing crisis.”
He claims: “The Government’s plans to help older people move at the right time and in the right way to free up homes for older buyers is an important issue, and something we believe would make a big difference. Around two-fifths of homes in the UK are owned by those aged over 65, who have no desire to move, as they do not want to sustain the costs or stress involved with moving.
“They are considered bedroom blockers, and are the main reason why there are a large number of homes with two or three spare bedrooms. We look forward to working with the Government on how it aims to use the existing housing stock in a more efficient way.”
New focus on renting
Cox states: “We are pleased that the Government has signalled a move towards a mixed tenure approach to housebuilding, and recognised that owner-occupation is not the only option available for those looking for a home.
“It is important that we have a housing market that works for everyone, not just for those who own their own property.”
Encouraging institutional investment
He says: “ARLA welcomes the Government’s plans to encourage more institutional investment to boost the number of properties available for rent. Any proposals that increase supply should be applauded.
“However, this approach should not be at the expense of small landlords who make up the bulk of the private rented sector. Experience has shown that, even in countries where institutional investment in the private rented sector has been encouraged, it still only makes up a small part of the sector. Small landlords are vital to the health of our rental sector.”
Cox also comments: “ARLA welcomes any attempt to improve stability in the housing market, and it is important that tenants feel that they are secure in their homes and are able to plan for the future. We welcome the Government’s approach to this, and have been working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government on proposals for incentivising longer-term tenancies; after all, it is in the best interests of landlords, tenants and agents to have long, well maintained tenancies. It is a fallacy that a regular churn of tenants benefits anyone.”
Powers to stop rogue landlords
He concludes: “We are highly supportive of the powers contained in the Housing and Planning Act, as they are targeted at those that bring the industry into disrepute and we encourage the Government to bring them into force as soon as possible.”
What do you think of the Government’s announcements, including the plans for three-year tenancies?