Society should work for everyone. There are differences of opinion over what makes a society good, but everyone can agree on a few things:
- Everyone should have a chance to make a decent living
- Everyone should have a place they can call home
- Government should try to prevent the cost of living from rising
- Children should expect a better quality of life than their parents
Today, for the nine million people living in privately rented housing, this society is a fantasy.
No chance to make a decent living
Renters are paying 30% of our income in order to keep a roof over their heads. This rises to 43% in London, where, despite incomes 25% higher than the national average, rents are 130% higher – more than twice the national average. We spend two days every week working to pay our landlord’s mortgage, effectively handing them a free house in return for very little work. We has little left over to save for ourselves. Our society is orchestrating a mass transfer of income from workers to the wealthy, denying people without property the chance to make a decent living.
No place to call home
The private rented sector has doubled in the past decade and it is no longer a temporary tenure dominated by students and new arrivals. Twice as many people aged between 25 and 34 rent as those who own their home. At this stage in one’s life most people want to settle down and start a family, but as private tenants we can be evicted with only two months’ notice at the whim of our landlord. That’s not an acceptable environment to raise children. We can’t do things that we grew up expecting to do, from owning a pet to decorating. The private rented sector does not give the consumer the comfort, stability and independence they want, but we have nowhere else to go.
Watch more experiences of the housing crisis here.
Rising cost of living
Private tenants have seen rents rise by 20% over the past two years. If we want to escape the clutches of our landlord, we need to have large savings to put a deposit on a house, but while we’re putting money away, house prices are rising by 8% per year. Even if we use the government’s Help to Buy scheme which requires only a 5% deposit we’ll probably end up paying more per month in repayments. Housing is the largest cost of living and everywhere you turn it is going up.
A lower quality of life than our parents
A generation ago, the average first time buyer was 30 years old. Back in 1997, the average house cost 3.5 times the average wage. As house prices doubled in relation to wages, the number of people buying a first home fell from over half a million to 200,000 per year. As a result the average first time buyer can’t afford a house until they’re 37. Seven extra years of paying a landlord for a place to live means that today’s young adults will be worse off than their parents.
The fundamental building blocks of a fair society are being systematically denied to a generation. How did this happen?