Winckworth Sherwood

UK 200 2014 position: 81

Back to the future: landlords to enjoy greatest freedoms since 1945

The last five years has seen the end of a love-in between central government and housing associations. The government likes local authorities again — or at least hates them less. There is little money for associations to build more homes, and those councils with retained housing stock — even while they struggle with the cuts they are having to make — are starting to see that they might once again build new homes on a significant scale.

The two most visible changes to the housing sector are the rapid growth of private rented property and the idea that the total subsidy to anyone in the shape of benefits should be capped. The view that housing is a commodity that the state should provide – and that the state should ration, control and allocate it – has lost nearly all of its intellectual coherence. 

After the second world war, building new homes was a government priority. The private sector was not nationalised but rents were controlled and then regulated at a level that made it uneconomic for responsible landlords to hold on to their stock. Many investors pulled out of the sector, and the number of owner occupiers rose…

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