The British Property Federation (BPF) has recommended a shift to rental accommodation to provide housing solutions for those worst affected by the economic downturn.

At its annual residential conference in London yesterday, the BPF suggested the idea that big firms could provide long-term home for rent in a "professionalised, branded rental sector".

This, it claimed, would solve the problems of rising repossessions and the high number of homeowners facing negative equity.

Ian Fletcher, residential director at the BPF, said the move could drive up both standards and supply in the private rented sector, and allow it to achieve its "full potential".

He added: "The sector's ability to adapt has been a huge strength;one that is even more invaluable in current economic conditions, which the government should be harnessing."

The BPF annual conference came after recent research published last week by propertyfinder.com showed that the best mortgage rates are currently only available to buyers who can afford a deposit worth 40 per cent of a home's value.ADNFCR-2002-ID-18993271-ADNFCR

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