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Private renting outstrips council and housing associations


The number of privately rented homes in England now stands at 4 million for 2012-13, in comparison to the 3.7 million homes that are rented by councils and housing associations, according to a survey published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Additionally, the number of owner-occupied homes fell to 14.3 million (65.2% of all homes in England), which is the lowest percentage of home ownership since 1988.

The DWP said that “The proportion of all households in owner occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2003 when it reached a peak of 71%, since then there has been a gradual decline in owner occupation to the current 65%.”

They went on to claim that traditionally throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the number of privately rented homes held steady at around 10%, but increased rapidly in recent years, almost doubling in size.

Reasons for a spike in the number of privately rented homes were also pointed out, with a key factor including the removal of certain rent controls in the late 1990s, which led to lenders introducing the ‘buy-to-let’ mortgage around the same time.

Additionally, the declining population of tenants in the ‘social’ sector was further exacerbated in the 1980s when the ‘Right-to-Buy’ policy was introduced; giving social tenants the right to buy their homes at a discounted price. This policy subsequently led to the proportion of households in the social sector falling from 31% in 1980, to 19% in 2000.

Housing charity Shelter commented negatively about the figures, claiming that “generation rent” was becoming a reality as more people were being priced out of home ownership, just as mortgage funds were becoming more readily available as a result of the ‘help to buy’ scheme.

The charity commented that "The significant shift reflects the growing trend of young people and families priced out of homeownership by soaring house prices, as demand for homes outstrips supply. This month, Shelter research found that average earners in England would need to more than double their annual salary to keep up with soaring house prices as they spiral further out of reach."

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