More Of Us Than Ever Will Be Still Renting When We Start A Family

What do they say the dream is? A car, a house and 2.5 children?

Is It Time To Focus On Affordable Rent Rather Than Homeownership?

by Aida Amoako |

As a result of this long-standing housing crisis, its looking increasingly unlikely that many of us will be able to buy first homes in the near future. That’s particularly bad news for the 60 percent of private renters who told the English Housing Survey, released today, that they expected to be able to buy a house at some point in the future. It’s not completely impossible of course, but if you’re part of the 50% of all 25-34 year olds who rent in the private sector, you might have to wait until you’re at the upper end of that age group to finally get on the housing ladder.

Across the U.K. the average age of first time buyers is 30, with the average being 32 in London. People are renting privately for longer as they try to save money. The majority of private renters are in full-time work but unless we see a significant rise in wages to accommodate the rise in living costs, that income is unlikely to stretch to saving for extortionate deposits. The median average wage for 2015 was £27,600 and the survey reports that private renters are spending on average 41 percent of their income on rent alone.

Having to save for on average 24 years, yes, that’s two decades, to scrape enough together for a deposit, many private renters are starting their own families while still renting.

In fact, the government survey shows that there has been a particularly large uptick in families with children under 18 renting in the private sector – over a million more than a decade ago. The instability of renting privately also means people are having to move often with their families in tow. The average tenancy length is only 3.9 years. Housing charity Shelter are working to combat this with a project in the North East that’s trying to encourage landlords to implement longer tenancies.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘With the number of renters having risen substantially over the past decade, it’s time to start paying attention to the needs of people who rent long term, not just those who have a chance to own.’ The numbers are indeed substantial. The survey shows that 20 percent of households are now privately rented. That’s a 74% increase from the 2007 figures.

Could the culture of homeownership be harmful for the country? Neate suggests ‘it would be a mistake to focus on homeownership for the minority at the expense of families left to suffer expensive and insecure private renting.’ She added: 'To give renters a better deal, the government must make good on its promise to massively increase the number of affordable homes available for ordinary families to rent.’ A significant increase in affordable homes for long term rent could be a blessing when homeownership for so many is looking like a pipe dream.

Follow Aida on Twitter @kidisalright

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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