There's bad news for the government in the form of house building targets on the eve of its long-awaited Housing White Paper - there’s been a two per cent drop in new home registrations in the past year.
The total registered in 2016 was 151,687; the worst hit area was London where registrations fell by a third according to the NHBC.
Outside of London the figures were up four per cent despite a blip in July following the shock result of the EU Referendum vote.
Overall in 2016, private sector registrations were 1.5 per cent down against 2015 at 115,689 and registrations in the affordable sector down 5.0 per cent to 35,998.
London suffered during the year for a variety of reasons including the effects of the Brexit vote, stamp duty changes and the re-phasing of larger apartment schemes.
But while the capital faltered, several regions fared well with registrations up 27 per cent in Yorkshire & Humberside, up 14 per cent in the wider South East and up 12 per cent in the North West.
Although the overall figures are down year on year, they represent the second highest in almost a decade.
The monthly breakdown shows a clear hiatus in July following the Referendum with a 30 per cent drop in registrations, but the market rallied quickly and four of the last five months of the year saw registrations increase year on year.
2016 also saw the highest number of detached homes registered (46,118) since 2004 and the highest number of semi-detached houses registered (38,999) since records began 30 years ago.
Meanwhile there have been more well-informed leaks, this time to The Observer newspaper, about the likely contents of the White Paper set to be released tomorrow (Tuesday).
“Ministers will say they want to change planning and other rules to ensure developers provide a proportion of new homes for ‘affordable rent’ instead of just insisting that they provide a quota of ‘affordable homes for sale’" says the newspaper.
The White Paper will also announce incentives to encourage landlords to offer guaranteed three-year tenancies which are regarded as family-friendly for tenants with children needing greater certainty for schooling.
The Observer says there will also be yet further measures - unspecified so far - to ban landlords who offer sub-standard properties, and may trigger the formal consultation period on banning fees charged to tenants by letting agents in England.
The Observer quotes Communities Secretary Sajid Javid saying: “We are determined to make housing more affordable and secure for ordinary working families, and have a rental market that offers much more choice. We understand people are living longer in private rented accommodation which is why we are fixing this broken housing market so all types of home are more affordable. These measures will help renters have the security they need to be able to plan for the future while we ensure this is a country that works for everyone.”
It is understood the White Paper will also tell councils to put more emphasis on rental schemes in towns and cities, while making it easier for institutional investors creating Build To Rent properties.