Home ownership drops to lowest level since the mid-1980s

25th February 2015

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The number of home owners has dropped to its lowest level since the mid-1980s, government figures today revealed.

The proportion of households living in a home of their own dropped by 2% in the last year, and by 22% since peak levels in 2003, according to figures from the English Housing Survey analysed by Shelter.

Overall, the number of renters across the country has risen to 11 million.

As the housing shortage continues to lock aspiring homeowners out of the market, there are now nearly  4 million 25-34 year olds privately renting across the country, a 4.5% jump since 2012-13, and nearly 27% more than a decade ago. Over the same period, the proportion of home-owners in this age group has plummeted from 59% to 36%.

Housing charity Shelter is warning that unless the government builds the affordable homes we need, millions of aspiring homeowners will continue to be left with no choice but to bring up children in unstable and expensive rented homes.

The charity highlights the case of Sarah, 31, who lives in a rented home with her husband and their baby in Bristol. She said: “My husband and I have been trying to save for a home for the last several years, but no matter how frugal we are, it’s still just a pipedream.

“Our baby is getting bigger and we want to raise her in a stable home, but at this rate, I can’t see how we’ll be able to afford one before she goes off to college.

“It’s really disheartening knowing that despite working and saving hard, we might never have a place to call our own.”

In the run-up to the General Election, Shelter is calling on politicians of all parties to commit to building more affordable homes.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “These figures confirm what millions of people across the country are already feeling: a home of their own has become a distant dream, no matter how hard they work or save.

“The shortage of affordable homes is leaving young adults with no choice but to remain stuck in their childhood bedrooms, or face decades paying out dead money to landlords.

“This can’t go on. After successive governments have failed to build the homes we need, politicians must commit to tackling the housing shortage once and for all. If they don’t, young people across the country will continue to watch their dreams of a stable future slip out of reach.”

The leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett came unstuck in a radio interview this week when she was unable to explain the figure behind her party’s housing policy.

Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site SpareRoom.co.uk added: “People in their twenties and early thirties are more likely to rent than own their homes and half of Londoners rent. Now could be the time to accept that buying a property is no longer a given – it simply may never happen.

“The report reveals, astoundingly, that half of all English homeowners are under-occupying their homes. They’re sitting on millions of empty bedrooms that could earn them extra cash and provide a solution to the housing crisis. If let to a lodger, a single room could earn homeowners an average of £6,000 per year and create much-needed new supply in the rental market.

“Today’s findings should give the Government the incentive it needs to address the needs of renters rather than simply creating policy for homeowners.

“With the General Election drawing ever closer, any party that prioritises housing – and the needs of the burgeoning population of renters – is going to get more votes.”

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