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Housing crisis influences young people’s life choices

January 11, 2013
Seemingly endless: England's Scandalous Housing Crisis (Photo: Alex Segre/Rex Features)

Seemingly endless: England’s Scandalous Housing Crisis (Photo: Alex Segre/Rex Features)

Things must be getting really serious when The Telegraph and the Guardian agree on a social issue.

This week, Peter Hetherington writes in the Guardian that with social housing in short supply “the unregulated private rental sector is filling the gap”.  He cites alarming statistics from the National Housing Federations’s survey, Home Truths – homelessness up by 26 per cent in the last two years; private-sector rents rise by an average of 37 per cent since 2007; and one in twelve families on social housing waiting lists.

Mary Riddell writes in The Telegraph that the only winners from this crisis will be “private landlords now demanding extortionate rents from benefits claimants and from young people forced to shelve any idea of buying their own homes” and calls for the return of rent capping.

The Guardian’s Patrick Collinson uses recent census figures to show that private renting has increased dramatically.  In Brighton 23,000 homes were privately rented in 2001 but this is now 34,000.

The social effects of this crisis are often unreported.  The Institute for Public Policy Research’s report, No Place to Call Home, asked young people about their experiences of renting.  They spoke about deferring major life decisions, like getting married or having children, because of the insecurity of renting and said they felt no sense of belonging to an area.

The charity Shelter warns about relying on a largely unregulated private rented sector, where “security of tenure and living conditions are poor”.

The reasons for the housing crisis are well-known – sky high house prices, a lack of new house building, a dearth of social housing, a lack of affordable new mortgages – but there is no clear consensus on the solutions.

One thing seems certain, the government is planning no changes to the rented sector.  In a written response, the Department for Communities and Local Government outlined its position on rent control:

“We are clear that allowing market rents was an important factor in the expansion of the sector and that to introduce rent control could cause the sector to contract. The resulting shortage of rented accommodation would help neither tenants nor landlords.”

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