An emphasis on tenants and customers should replace the current focus on housing providers, a government housing official says.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Richard McCarthy, who is the director general of housing and planning in the department for communities and local government, called for a "more balanced debate".
He suggested the current position was angled towards providers and did not take customer needs into account to the same degree.
"Consumers have few choices – and providers have few market incentives to listen to their concern," he said.
"The big picture on service provision is customer focus. This will be a challenge to landlords."
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott told conference delegates the government had made progress over the last ten years to reduce non-decent homes and revitalise UK cities.
This included £42 billion investment in housing in the private and public sector, which could have had an overall impact on the numbers of people wanting to buy a house in Scotland or sell a house in Scotland.