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Pension funds sought to build rental housing

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Plans to encourage pension funds to invest in private rented housing will be unveiled today by the Homes and Communities Agency in what will be seen as a major lobbying victory for the

Plans to encourage pension funds to invest in private rented housing will be unveiled today by the Homes and Communities Agency in what will be seen as a major lobbying victory for the British Property Federation.

The government’s recently formed ‘super agency’ is responding to a two-year campaign led by the trade body to shift housing policy towards rental. Today’s announcement will focus around gauging expressions of interest which will then be taken forward in late May and worked up into pilots.

Around eight organisations have reportedly been in talks with the HCA over building rented accommodation, and therefore supporting builders during the housing market recovery.

They are rumoured to include two institutions, two housing associations and one or two big name pension funds. The project could see thousands of new homes built for long term rent.

The HCA is brokering the expressions of interest exercise with property agent DTZ. Berwin Leighton Paisner is the law firm acting for the HCA.

The BPF and its members have all welcomed the move, but called again on Treasury ministers to make a major stamp duty fix to encourage investment.
 
Changes were set to be made in the Budget which would have allowed big investors to pay the same amount of tax on bulk purchases as they would on individual units. This would have provided encouragement to pension funds to pump millions into building new homes as part of the an initiative which is seeking to build thousands of quality homes for rent.

Ian Fletcher (pictured), BPF residential director who has led the BPF’s lobbying work on housing, says. ‘It’s great that policy makers are alert to the need to continue to expand the private rented sector and support development through these difficult times. But it’s vital we look at what we can do to make the numbers stack up. It’s now or the never for the professional rented sector and it’s essential that ministers do not loose sight of the opportunities here.’

Peter Cosmetatos, BPF director for finance, says: ‘One positive to emerge from the current downturn is that the fall in property prices has made the yields offered by residential property, which are typically modest, much more attractive. There is a rare opportunity at this point in the cycle for institutional investors to invest in an asset class that provides an excellent hedge against inflation at a good price.’

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