Oct 04

UK faces critical shortage of homes to rent, says Rics

The UK is facing a “critical rental shortage” which requires a building programme to focus on providing for tenants, a surveyors’ body has said.

At least 1.8 million more households will be looking to rent rather than buy a home by 2025, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) claims.

It has called on the government to offer tax breaks to encourage building and investment in the sector.

The Conservative Party has indicated its focus remains on home ownership.
Stamp duty change

The number of UK households renting property rose from 2.3 million in 2001 to 5.4 million in 2014, according to Rics.

It said that any further investment in property by landlords had been hit by changes to stamp duty in April.

Anyone buying a home that is not their main residence must now pay a 3% stamp duty surcharge. In Scotland, the equivalent tax – the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – was also up-rated.

This led to a spike in property purchases in March, with transactions falling quickly again thereafter. Next year, landlords are likely to be hit again when their right to deduct their mortgage interest from their income tax bill is removed.
Landlords v first-timers

Rics suggests that the stamp duty increase should be reversed, a move which would infuriate potential first-time buyers – many of whom say they are regularly outbid by buy-to-let investors.

Rics also called for:

  • Private house builders being encouraged to build specifically for the rental sector
  • Pension funds given tax breaks to fund large scale rental properties
  • Councils encouraged to release brownfield sites for building homes for tenants

Rics’ call comes just a day after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the government would take “unprecedented steps” to encourage construction of homes for people to buy.

He told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the housing shortage was “a huge issue for our country” and would be his “number-one priority”.

He said: “Far too many young people cannot get a foot on the housing ladder. Many are being forced to live back with mum and dad as rents soar faster than wages.”

Among the plans announced was an Accelerated Construction scheme, using £2bn of new public sector borrowing to make public land with outline planning permission available to builders.

Last month, charity Citizens Advice called for lettings agents fees to be paid only by landlords, to curb rising charges for tenants.