In the 10 years to April 2017, the proportion of people renting their home from a private landlord increased across all working age groups. Conversely, the proportion of homeowners with a mortgage fell among those of working age.
Figures from the Family Resources Survey by the Department of Work and Pensions, 2017, summarise the current situation:
20% in private rented sector
28% own with mortgage
34% own outright
17% in social renting sector
Although nearly half of 25 to 34-year-olds were tenants in the private rented sector by 2017, the largest increase in private rented sector tenants over the 10 years during and after the financial crisis were 35 to 44-year-olds. Their proportion doubled from 13% to 26%. The proportion of 45 to 54-year-olds renting from a private landlord also rose from 8% to 14% over the same period.
The rise in renting among 45 to 50-year-olds, can often be as a result of death, debt or divorce, according to analysis for the BBC. Couples can’t both afford to buy a property in the same area when they split up and many of those leaving long-term relationships become “accidental renters” (Mrs Higgins, StepChange). In addition, rising UK house prices mean that many middle-age workers are unable to afford a first home.
Record numbers of families are in rented accommodation. Charities say there is a significant impact on the continuity of both family and financial life. In a survey carried out by housing charity Shelter, two-thirds of private renters with families wished their children did not have to live in a privately rented home. A fifth had moved from one rented home to another in the previous five years which impacted on travel and education for some. One in six had been asked to move by the landlord.
Single parents with children who rent are a major concern among debt charities. Debt charity StepChange said that four in five of those seeking help for unmanageable debts were tenants. Many were single parents. Mostly it was a financial shock e.g. divorce or redundancy, that led to the debt rather than poor budgeting.
Renting among all age groups is now more likely to be from a private landlord rather than a social landlord. There are concerns about social inequality between homeowner “haves” and renter “have-nots” (Homeowners’ Alliance).
The think-tank Resolution Foundation called for the building of more affordable homes for first-time buyers, better protection for those who rent, a tax system that discourages second-home ownership as well as policies to limit rent increases to the rate of inflation over a three-year period.
BBC News has set up a new UK Facebook group all about affordable living.