We have enough houses – its the tenure that has changed!

Much media attention has been devoted to the housing ‘shortage’ with tales of younger people now renting in the private sector rather than buying property. There are a number of reasons for this, some of which are housing related (outbid by other purchasers for example), some of which are not (earnings, benefit changes). But what the commentators have missed, which is either due to a lack of understanding of the issues or because parrot fashion they repeat the mantra ‘We must build more houses’ is hard to say, is that changes in housing tenure levels by age group have nothing to do with a lack of houses. People are still living in a house (or flat), there are sufficient properties available.

For example,there were 3.8 million household headed by someone in the 25-34 age-group. 1.5 million of these were in owner-occupied accommodation, with 1.6 million in privately rented accommodation. A further 0.7 million, lived in social housing. Thats 3.8 million households or houses/flats.

If 2 million lived in owner-occupied housing and 1 million in private rented with 0.8 million in social housing we would have 3.8 million households in 3.8 million houses/flats.

The same total as before. No more or fewer houses/flats. The distribution of tenure would have changed not the number of houses!

Easy really!

House of Commons Library, BRIEFING PAPER, Number CBP 7706, 9 June 2017 Home ownership & renting: demographics


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