The Montague Review into private rented housing is due to report later this month.
From the trails so far, I’d say the measures it proposes will increase development of homes for market rent. I’m not sure though it’s entirely a good thing.
The recommendations are to:
- bring forward public land for private rented development,
- push councils to have planning policy that promotes private rented homes (by waiving requirements to build affordable housing alongside)
- offer loans and guarantees to support private rented homes
This looks to me like prioritising private rented homes over affordable homes and homes for ownership.
- Is private rented development really the best use of public land? If the land is not being sold at a market price to the developer, then it is a simple public subsidy for a private industry.
- Allowing developers of market rent homes to escape affordable housing commitments is a straight forward promotion of market homes over affordable homes. It also disadvantages homes built for ownership – presumably those developments are still expected to contain affordable housing?
- Loans and guarantees for private rented homes are a good idea, but why just for market rented homes? Affordable housing and housing for ownership are equally in need of finance and are still safe investments.
The government asked the review what would help one part of the housing sector. The recommendations say that by skewing the market and public policy we can build more in that sector. If you wanted to increase the number of homes for sale, social rent, shared ownership, co-operative housing etc. you could replicate each of these measures for that sector and they would work – you’d just be skewing the market towards them instead.
The real questions are: what homes should we build, why and for whom? Then we should set the policies and incentives accordingly. Once again, it is the absence of a strategy.
We’ll see how the government responds in the autumn and it’s preferred housing pecking order.