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For the 21st month running, the supply of rental properties has fallen. The housing crisis appears to be deepening, with the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey showing the housing market in the UK is very subdued. It forecasts that any improvements regarding new properties coming on to the market will be short-lived. With fewer tax breaks, mortgage relief being phased out and extra stamp duty payable on second and subsequent homes, many landlord have sold up. So in many ways, it looks as though the government policy to squeeze landlords in order to enable first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder has worked. However, young people are not jumping at the chance to own a property. For many, they like the flexibility to move around that renting offers. Others do not want the 20 or 30-year financial commitment of a mortgage.

In June, newly-agreed sales were down for the 16th month in a row. RICS believes this continuous decline in sales suggests that the volume of sales is not going to improve over the next few months. Likewise, the number of property buyers has also remained flat and RICS feels this will continue for the rest of the year. This lack of interest on the sales side is affecting prices, which also remain flat. With the lack of interest set to continue, this situation is not expected to change either. RICS policy manager, Geoff White, called it a ‘complicated market situation’. He feels that this difficult situation is only likely to worsen. The situation in the private-rental concern is particularly worrying, with the supply of properties continuing to drop. The government’s policy on landlords‘ taxes and stamp duty are making things difficult for the rental sector at a time when there is a growing need for more properties to rent. RICS is asking the government to standardise regulations to help make life more comfortable for both tenants and landlords. It suggests the government brings in greater regulation by adopting the code of practice which is used by RICS members and other organisations.

There is also an urgent need for new builds, but the government is also falling short on meeting its house-building target. Whilst build-to-lets are attracting a lot of interest, they are not being built quickly enough or in sufficient numbers to rectify the shortfall of decent rental properties. The government has some way to go yet to ease the acute housing crisis before it gets any worse.

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