Britain 'to become nation of renters'

By Emma Rowley
Published: 14 November 2011

The UK's housing shortage and the problems around obtaining a mortgage mean that Britain is becoming a nation of renters, according to a new survey.

More than half (54pc) of Britons questioned in a poll commissioned by Grainger, the UK's largest listed residential landlord, expect that in 15 years more people in the UK will be renting their homes than owning.

The split today is around 30pc rented and 70pc ownership. With social renting expected to stay fairly stable at 16pc, the survey implies that private renters – currently representing 17pc of the market - will double by 2016, said Grainger.

"There is a new housing reality dawning on Britain: the financial crisis has tightened mortgage lending; house prices continue to be uncertain; and, frankly there are simply too few homes for the demand,” said Nick Jopling, the company's executive property director. “More and more people are renting."

The survey found that 40pc of people now see renting as a first step on to the housing ladder. In addition, 92pc of young people polled (18 to 34-year-olds) said they saw renting as the only way they can move out from their parents’ homes.

The younger generation was also less likely to say that owning a house was an important today as it was 25 years ago. Grainger saw this as evidence that the "stigma" of renting is dissipating over the generations.

The company wants the Government to speed up the process of unlocking land for new developments, to implement their controversial proposals to reform the planning system and to back the private rented sector as an acceptable form of housing tenure.

"The shortage of housing is set to continue – more needs to be done to avoid the growing crisis and close the gap between supply and demand," said Mr Jopling.

Shelter, the homeless charity, warned that the shortage of housing already means that private rents are now "sky-high". "As well as this, almost half the properties in the sector are in poor and substandard condition which people have no other choice than to accept," said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.

"This raises some very serious questions about how we create a decent stable private rented sector that meets the needs of the 1m families with children currently living there. We urge the Government to address this in their upcoming housing strategy."