Bishop & Sewell

The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to banning so-called no fault evictions. All this refers to is the right of a landlord to end a tenancy at a pre-agreed time on any ground (or none).. So not only is this an assault on a property owner’s right to deal with their property as they wish, but it also distracts from the problem at the heart of the housing crisis – our inability to build, writes Thom Wilkinson, a Partner in our Property and Environmental Law team.

Michael Gove’s recent warning that young people could “turn against democracy” if they can’t get housing is a painful reminder of how broken the market has become. For two decades, home ownership has declined and renting has surged. Few have the money needed for a deposit in a market now dubbed an “inheritocracy”.

It’s no surprise that one-in-three people rent in the private sector in London, Whilst for many that is a lifestyle choice for others it isn’t and many are not happy with the standard of such housing. By some measures up to a quarter of these homes are described as “non-decent” – leaky, damp or in general disrepair.

In response, a growing number of Build-to-rent (BTR) developments – purpose-built clusters of apartments rented out by a single owner – have anchored key districts such as Wembley and Stratford. They range in price and facilities, but each one has on-site management which reduces many issues associated with absent or amateur landlords.

Many BTR developments – such as those owned by Legal & General, Grainger, Moorfield and M&G – are funded using pension fund capital.

A house key resting on a tenancy agreement contract.

Writing in the Evening Standard, Katherine Russell, Director of Build-to-rent homes at the John Lewis Partnership, explains the retailer has lots of brownfield real estate, which they’d like to put to good use.

However, before John Lewis can add its support to the BTR movement, which Savills believes could contribute towards the £250 billion that is required to build the million rental homes we need by 2030, she has three excellent recommendations to government:

“Firstly, to ensure that local councils are compelled to actually allow building on brownfield sites, as Mr Gove has proposed, we need concrete measures in place. Creating brownfield development zones – areas with pre-determined planning consents – would solve this. They could prescribe the use – such as rental housing – and pre-agree design principles (such as height or density) to make it more likely that housing gets built quickly. Doing so would speed things up and dramatically attract more investment.

“Secondly, we need clear local policies around Build-to-rent. Right now, only six councils in London have Build-to-rent explicitly referenced in planning policy, according to consultants Litchfields. While ’guidance’ exists nationally and in the Mayor’s London Plan, councils are free to ignore this and often bow to the demands of groups who oppose any kind of development. This was another point raised by Mr Gove last week.

“Thirdly, local plans should mandate a minimum quota of Build-to-rent housing and encourage higher density developments close to transport links. Tax payers have invested £19 billion into the Elizabeth Line and building around its rail hubs will help drive usage, which makes environmental and commercial sense.

National guidance already exists around ‘discount market rent’ aimed at enabling swift agreements with councils around subsidised housing, but it is rarely followed. London, more than any other UK city, has a housing crisis now throttling its growth. Home ownership should remain an option for everyone – but planning policy needs to move with the times. Politicians must recognise we are in the grip of a full-blown rental crisis.

Only by unlocking investment for new supply will we change that. If political parties want to secure votes from millions of renters at the next general election, supporting Build-to-rent should be front and centre of their manifestos.


Contact our Property Team

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please do get in contact, quoting ref CB452. Thom Wilkinson is a Partner specialising in Property and Environmental Law and is contactable on: +44 (0)20 7692 7581 or

At Bishop & Sewell, we have more than 40 years’ experience in property with a particular focus on Landlord & Tenant.  If you are thinking of buying a leasehold property, or if you already own a leasehold property and you have a question about obtaining a consent to alterations that you are planning please call 020 7631 4141 and ask for a member of the Property team, or email

The above is accurate as at 22 February 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 22nd Feb 2024

David Little

David Little's Blog

Learn more

Louise Barretto’s

Mark Chick's Blog

Leasehold information

Learn more

Technical updates

View by