Home ownership at 30-year low

Just 62.9% of England's population owns their home - the lowest proportion since 1985. And the private rented population now stands at 4.5m households, up on last year and bigger than in 1961, when slum landlords like Peter Rachman were making tenants' lives a misery.

These are the big findings of the English Housing Survey Headline Report, the first of two releases of the government-commissioned survey for 2015-16.

At this rate, there will be more private renters than mortgage holders in just five years' time. It's already the largest tenure in London.


It’s worth noting that outright owners are still growing in number, but this trend will have huge implications, politically, economically and socially. And it is based on the assumption that the government will continue to fail to fix the housing crisis.

There are several other interesting findings from the report:

  • One quarter of households with dependent children are renting from a private landlord. This represents 36% of the private renter population.
  • 46% of 25-34 year olds are renting privately. Yet the majority of private rented households are headed by someone aged 35 or over – it’s not just a young person’s tenure.
  • 1.1m private renters will reach retirement age in the next 20 years (ie they’re 45-64). Given how difficult it is to get a mortgage after the age of 40, many of these people will still be renting in retirement. There are currently 370,000 private renter households of retirement age.
  • Out of 654,000 new first-time buyers (who bought in the past 3 years), 50,000 were aged over 45. However, 40% of new homeowners have a mortgage that lasts longer than 30 years. So people are escaping insecure tenancies, but thanks to high house prices they might face a longer period in debt.
  • For most private renters, home ownership remains a distant prospect. 1.06m don’t expect to buy in the next 5 years. 1.76m don’t expect to buy, full stop.
  • For a flavour of what they have to look forward to, nearly one in 10 private renters are living with damp problems.

None of this will come as any surprise to the government, but they continue to shirk their duty to make renting more acceptable or build the homes that are needed to bring down house prices and rents.

Generation Rent is campaigning to improve the lives of the UK’s private renters and won’t let the government get away with inaction. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to keep us going – please consider making a donation.


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