The government has been urged to allow social landlords greater flexibility over setting rents on a local basis as part of the affordable rent model.
The call from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors comes as part of a wide-ranging review into the UK’s residential housing policy.
In the review, published this week, RICS said that the £1.8 billion 2011/15 affordable homes programme was ‘not a long term solution to the provision of affordable housing’, claiming that an ‘over-reliance’ on borrowing against assets would leave housing associations unable to raise more money after 2015.
It said the government should consider allowing providers to set rents within boundaries set by local authorities. Currently, under the affordable homes programme, landlords can charge up to 80 per cent market rent but these are set in consultation with councils, which can veto rents deemed to be too high.
RICS said allowing landlords to work within pre-set parameters ‘would create homes that meet the needs of the community’.
The report also called on the establishment of a cross-departmental group to look at how affordable housing is funded. It said there was ‘a disconnect’ between capital funding from the Communities and Local Government department and the housing benefit bill footed by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Away from affordable housing, RICS suggested a range of measures to improve the provision of housing.
These included extending the government’s mortgage indemnity scheme for new build housing to the rest of the market, the encouragement of more build to rent housing through the use of section 106 agreements, and wholesale reform of the stamp duty system.
Source: Inside Housing