DEBATE: Should we prioritise reforming the rental sector for young people over promoting home ownership?

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Home ownership remains an aspiration for the capital’s hardworking young people (Source: Getty)

Should we prioritise reforming the rental sector for young people over promoting home ownership?

Emily Horton, assistant political news editor at The London Student, says YES.

The housing market is broken. Property has become a form of currency and has lost its original utility to actually house people. Retirement funds, social care fees, inheritance and profit are all now motives to buy. But in the race to secure future peace of mind, present practicalities have been mutilated: young mid-earners are now locked out of buying a home.

Compared to the security of a mortgage, rent feels like money down the drain, but the cruel Catch 22 is that most young people will never be able to own property, leaving them stuck in an unworkable rental sector. Attempts to get them onto the housing ladder with demand-side reforms are delusional.

A viable alternative to this property pipedream must be found. Rents must be reduced and tenancies made more secure, so young people can afford to put more into their pension funds and other investment pots.

This will reassure them that their futures are protected, without relying on the Thatcherite delusion of home ownership.

Read more: London first-time buyers are more than £50,000 better off than renters

Marc Vlessing, chief executive of Pocket Living, says NO.

Home ownership remains an aspiration for the capital’s hardworking young people on middle incomes, because they can’t trust the rental market to remain affordable and secure in the long term. We shouldn’t close the door on that dream and deny them the opportunities that generations before have been granted.

The economic, social and cultural prosperity of London depends on this group. They make the city tick and we must make home ownership a priority for them – right now, huge swathes are prevented from accessing a secure home, whether for rent or for sale.

To overcome this challenge, we need more SME developers that can provide the innovative financial models, design and construction methods which are required.

Empowering a new generation of smaller builders will loosen the grip of the big developers and deliver thousands of genuinely affordable homes quickly and on a scale where we can start helping those young people that are being left out.

Read more: Here's how many affordable rented homes the UK needs to build every week

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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