With Britain's burgeoning population, fears are rife that a potential housing crisis could emerge in the future, and the government has been urged to take steps to prevent such a problem arising before it is too late.

As such, communities secretary Eric Pickles has unveiled a new set of planning laws which are designed to make it easier for investors to convert unused office space to create residential properties.

It is hoped that the legislation will result in an increase in the availability of homes, allowing previously developed land to be made available as the government attempts to prevent a housing shortage.

Dubbed the permitted development right, the new law will be in place for three years, and removes the need for investors and developers to get planning permission from local authorities before converting properties.

"We want to promote the use of brownfield land to assist regeneration, and get empty and under-used buildings back into productive use," Mr Pickles explained.

"Using previously developed land and buildings will help us promote economic growth, provide more homes and still ensure that we safeguard environmentally protected land."

The minister's comments were echoed by planning minister Nick Boles, who said that the measures will improve efficiency in the planning process by reducing the number of regulations that have to be adhered to.

"These changes are an important step in improving the planning system and making sure it is in the best possible shape to swiftly adapt to changes and opportunities," he added.

As an increased number of residential properties become available, it's likely that investors will look to take advantage of the chance to expand their portfolios as the buy-to-let sector continues to grow.

And once they do start letting their assets, it's vital that they remember to invest in landlord insurance policies to reduce the risk that unexpected costs threaten their profits.