English home-ownership remains at 30-year low as renting soars

Young tired couple with boxes

Home-ownership remains at its lowest level in 30 years, according to the latest English Housing Survey.

The 2017 EHS shows that owner occupation rates remain unchanged for the third year in a row, accounting for 63 per cent of the 22.8 million households in England. This remains at the lowest level in approximately three decades: the proportion of households in owner occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2003 when it reached its peak of 71 per cent, but since then, has gradually declined, before flatlining since 2014.

There are more outright owners now, according to the statistics, while the proportion of those buying with a mortgage has reduced. Indeed, in 2015-16, 34 per cent of households were outright owners while 29 per cent were mortgagors. Since 2013-14, there have been more outright owners than mortgagors, and the proportion of mortgagors has declined (from 31 per cent of households in 2013-14 to 29 per cent in 2015-16). This is least partly due to the population ageing and paying off their mortgages.

Ownership graph

The decline in home-ownership is tied to the booming growth of the private rented sector, which now accounts for one in five (4.5 million) of all English households. The social rented sector accounts for 3.9 million or 17 per cent of households.

Over the last decade, the number of families in the private rented sector has increased, with the proportion of households in the private rented sector with children up from 30 per cent to 36 per cent.

“Given the sizeable growth in the overall number of private renters over this period, this six percentage point increase equates to about 945,000 more households in the private rented sector with children,” says the report.

Those who are resorting to renting because they cannot afford to buy a home are also feelinga greater squeeze, confirms the study, with private renters spending a significantly greater proportion of their income on their housing costs than social renters or those buying with a mortgage. On average, those buying their home with a mortgage spend 18 per cent of their household income on mortgage payments, while rent payments make up 28 per cent of household income for social renters and 35 per cent of household income for private renters.

The figures highlight the importance of the private rented sector for providing accommodation to would-be homeowners, at a time when the UK government has introduced a range of measures designed to clamp down on the sector, leaving buy-to-let investors will little choice but to raise rents. There is some good news, though, as Homelet research published today reveals many landlords are attempting to keep rents affordable for as long as possible.