Sir Adrian Montague’s report on the private rented sector, his ‘Review of the barriers to institutional investment in private rented homes’, has triggered immediate heated debate about how the sector can do more to help deliver the quantity and quality of accommodation the UK needs. Montague, chairman of private equity firm 3i, recognising the significant potential for large scale purpose built rental housing, makes five key recommendations. He urges local authorities to do more to plan for and facilitate the required growth (they have existing powers to use Section 106 Agreements to allow developers to build for rentals), the Government to accelerate land release, enhanced public and private sector collaboration, the establishment of a dedicated Task Force enabler and, finally, development of voluntary standards to be adopted across the build to let sector.
Montague’s assertion (part of his first recommendation) that in many cases local authorities will be justified in waiving requirements for affordable housing, has triggered inevitable concern from some quarters. Housing minister Grant Shapps cites the report as a ‘blueprint’. In contrast, Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey has said the overall slump in housebuilding and continued severe restrictions on mortgage availability are more important obstacles to satisfying housing need. For many the focus should remain firmly on the more fundamental issue of funding growth across the board, rather than tenure.