Thursday’s general election presents the main political parties with an opportunity to address voters’ concerns about housing, and not just focus on attempts to leave the EU.
With UK house prices and rents continuing to rise, owed largely to the imbalance between property supply and demand, housing needs to be top of the agenda for the incoming prime minister, according to Apropos by DJ Alexander.
Whichever party wins office, the property management firm believes that they need to immediately respond to the UK’s growing housing problem and develop a coordinated response which involves building more social housing, maintaining and developing a better private rented sector (PRS), and encouraging affordable home ownership.
David Alexander, managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander Ltd, said: “Housing has become one of the key issues in the UK as the population increases, the number of smaller households rises, and the number of older people increases all of which has ensured that demand far outstrips supply.
“There needs to be a coordinated and unified approach to resolving this issue which involves the three main pillars of the housing market: home-owners; the private rented sector; and social housing.
“With the UK population set to increase by over 300,000 people a year for the next 25 years demand will continue to be strong and rather than set one group against the other the market needs to respond as a whole.”
Given that the number of people living in private rented accommodation has grown, doubling in the past three decades, renters are now a political force that the main parties can no longer ignore - so it is no surprise that they are starting to take the renting crisis seriously at this election, with politicians in agreement that the rental system needs improving.
Alexander continued: “We are now seeing the market change as more people live in the PRS for longer for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is necessity but often it is through choice whether to allow greater flexibility and mobility for employment or, increasingly, among older renters who choose to rent somewhere for lifestyle and affordability reasons allows them to rent somewhere that they might not otherwise be able to afford.”
“Key to this is an understanding that the PRS is the second largest market in the UK after property owners, and it is growing in size. Appreciating that the PRS will continue to be major part of the housing market and will co-exist with social housing and with owners is essential in developing future housing policy that will deliver suitable homes to the UK’s growing population over the next quarter of a century.”
He added: “Social housing is an essential element of the future housing mix but will never replace the PRS. But the way in which the PRS is delivered is also changing.
“Build to rent, for example, clearly has the potential to offer a serious and sustainable solution to some of the shortages. Equally the new prime minister must ensure that the PRS is properly regulated, is fair to both landlords and tenants, and provides appropriate homes for individuals in the years to come. All of this requires an understanding of the different strands of the housing market and the shifting demands of owners, tenants and landlords.
“Trust has been a key issue in this election campaign and the incoming prime minister must ensure generate trust and confidence in any future housing market that is developed over the coming years and that it works for everyone involved.”