Tomorrow's Economy

Building for generation rent

25 April 2016

How a co-owned, co-operative model can solve the housing crisis

Jake Sumner

In the later part of the 19th century a housing crisis saw the passing of the Public Health Act 1875 ushering in housing standards, slum clearance and social home building through reformers such as George Peabody. In the decades following the first and second world wars, social housebuilding programmes commenced to address the lack of housing. To tackle the housing crisis now facing London will require a similar commitment alongside new solutions applicable to today’s needs.

This paper outlines reforms to one of the most challenging parts of the housing market, the private rented sector. It supports more private rented sector schemes such as those being developed by some councils, but offers a model to enable greater scaling and to bring more benefit to tenants as well as securing wider public gain. The paper is also a political argument for this to be a priority, made part of the suite of policies to meet London’s housing needs. The proposal, which the author has called co-owned, co-operative housing, offers affordable market rents and long-term secure tenure for millions of low- to middle-income-earning Londoners affected by the crisis, and creates long-term reform to the private rented sector housing market.

Photo credit: Grand Warszawski /