3 MAY 2008, Page 26

Anticipating the crash

Sir: Rod Liddle (Liddle Britain, 26 April) welcomes the predicted 25 per cent fall in house prices, and so do I. But comparisons with the last property crash do not take into account the malign effect of the buy-to-let market. Landlords will buy more property as prices fall, renting to more tenants who cannot afford to buy, so limiting price falls. The 1988 Housing Act removed controls that discouraged residential lettings. The reforms were surely intended to allow the rental of empty flats above shops, the rental of homes where owners were abroad or in care, but not to undermine owner-occupation. The last few years have seen enormous growth in the rental market and now nearly every buy-tolet is a house or flat lost to owner-occupation.

Politicians like to talk about making homes affordable, so it is sad to see that Conservatives, once the party of home-ownership, have missed the connection between an expanding rental market, shrinking home ownership, and our unaffordable house prices.

Ian Thorburn