Housing report

Councils need more funds to provide affordable housing, report says

Councils and housing associations should be funded to buy and upgrade existing homes to let at affordable rents as part of a wider upheaval in the private rental sector, according to the think tank.

A new report of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) called for fundamental reforms of the private rental sector (PRS) to open up the market for those excluded from home ownership and social housing.

As well as advocating for more funding for councils and housing associations to help them provide affordable housing, the report called for a review of the regulations that govern mortgages to prioritize lending to those seeking to buy for the first time rather than owners.

He also called for tax reforms to reduce property speculation and more support to help tenants buy the house they live in, including through a right to purchase for private tenants.

The think tank also advocates for the creation of mechanisms whereby landlords receive funding to upgrade their home to high environmental standards, in exchange for renting to a housing provider to provide tenants with below-market rents.

Darren Baxter, Senior Policy Advisor at JRF, said: “The housing market is not working. Over the past decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth of the private rental sector alongside the decline in the proportion of households in social housing or as owners. As a result, millions of people are forced to pay unaffordable rents, fear eviction by landlords, and have little opportunity to save.

“The right to buy and the expansion of the private rental sector in the wake of the global financial crisis have already shown that rapid changes in housing distribution are possible. Reforming the private rental sector by changing the distribution of housing within it should be the gateway to further fundamental reform of the housing market. Such reforms would ensure that the housing market supports those looking for a place to call home rather than those looking for assets to invest in.