More housing regulation on the way
The private rental sector has been a crucial provider of residential accommodation in recent years as so many people have struggled to get on the housing ladder, and it is likely to remain so for some time yet.
Nonetheless, the nature of the property market and wider housing scene in the UK is changing - and is sure to go on doing so.
The main reason this is certain to be the case is the huge number of new measures being brought to bear by the government on all manner of aspects of the property market, both for the rental and owner-occupancy sectors.
If there was any doubt about this, one only needs to consider the speech made this week by communities secretary Sajid Javid to a conference of local government planners, where he formally launched the National Planning Policy Framework.
He noted that the changes to the planning system did not just include the raft of reforms announced in last year's housing white paper, but also those arising from the 'Planning for the right homes in the right places' consultation in September, further measures announced in the Budget in November and, just for good measure, "some further reforms".
Much of what has been done to date concerns the rental sector, with Mr Javid noting government initiatives aimed at curbing the activities of rogue landlords and encouraging longer tenancies.
However, much interest will focus on the detail of the reforms, as these will impact on the nature and quality of property for both owner-occupancy and rental.
For example, Mr Javid noted how at present some developers have failed to fulfil pledges to contribute to infrastructure near new housing schemes, having initially committed to a contribution ony to "claim they can’t afford them" at a later date. New regulations will make such commitments clearer and more enforceable, which should be good news for landlords of rental homes in such areas. These will become more attractive to live in because getting around will be easier.
Ultimately, it is all about building more homes, which may help more people buy in the longer run and perhaps reduce rental demand. But it may be some years yet before such effects are strongly felt.