Is Britain ready to be a nation of housing renters?

What a seismic shift in mindset it might seem, moving away from owner-occupation as the housing tenure of choice in the UK (as discussed previously on this blog)… but it looks like we might be getting there. We have seen a growing focus, and widespread demand, for the private rental sector to step in and ease housing congestion across the country. Recent DCLG statistics show that new-housing output in England achieved just over 100,000 completions in 2010, the lowest since 1923.

So with a dearth of new homes to choose from – and limited mortgage finance capacity even if there is a new scheme that catches your eye – tenants are opting for private rental. The English Housing Survey shows the proportion of households renting privately climbing to more than 16% (2009/10) from less 10% a decade earlier. These are gains at the expense of the owner-occupied sector. As a result of the length of time it takes to build a large deposit; wage growth rising below inflation; and the repayment of student debt – tenants are compelled to be tenants for longer.

With the recent Jones Lang LaSalle forecast for UK housing showing no immediate house price boom, rental is an increasingly appropriate option. The debate can (and will) rage on regarding; the right balance around security of tenure, fair rent assessments, dealing with defaults, the eviction process, and an appropriate legal balance between landlord and tenant rights. From personal experience, the relationship is not always going to be an easy one: but a little creative thinking and give-and-take (from both sides) can make this a fruitful and dependable partnership.