DCLG to launch 'expert task force' for rental sector

The government will assemble an ‘expert task force’ to stimulate the private rental housebuilding sector, according to the director-general of neighbourhoods at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Peter Schofield, speaking at the RESI 2012 housing conference, said he wanted developers, management bodies and institutional investors to work together to boost the sector.

The task force will co-ordinate and support delivery of a £200million fund to provide equity finance for developers on high-quality build for rent projects, he told a housing conference yesterday.

The funding will be available as short- to medium-term financing for developers with viable schemes. It will supplement the £10 billion in guarantees and the planning reforms announced last week. There are about 3.5m households in the private rented sector.

Mr Scholes said: “Recently, housebuilding has almost exclusively been driven by a combination of the owner-occupier market and the affordable sector, and there is no longer an established model of building for market rent.”

He said there was “strong demand” for rented housing, which was not being met by supply, presenting an “outstanding investment opportunity”.

He added: “What we now need is for investors and developers and landowners to come together and make the most of what we’re providing.”

But Andrew Cunningham, CEO of housebuilder Grainger, warned against creating a rental sector that competed with owner-occupied developments.

“I think we should build a different playing field altogether,” he told the conference. “A proper, private rented product that does not compete with the owner-occupied sector.”

He said that scale and management were big challenges in the rented sector, with a lack of professional landlords providing well-managed, choice properties that matched demand.

He also admitted he had been “slightly disappointed” with last week’s announcements, but said that the spotlight on housing was welcome.

Meanwhile, British Property Federation CEO Liz Peace challenged Mr Schofield to keep his promises. “We have been here before,” she told the RESI conference. “This time, can they actually show that they really mean it?”

“I look forward to working with him,” she added, “and I hope he can deliver.”

Mr Schofield welcomed contributions from industry figures at housinggrowth@communities.gsi.gov.uk

 

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