By Joe Harker
Apparently we're living in Generation Rent, with house prices so high and mortgages difficult to access for some the only option is renting.
Those in full time employment or even married may not be able to afford a place of their own and cannot accumulate enough in savings to afford a deposit. For some renting is useful as they need to move wherever the work is but for others it is a situation they would rather not be in.
It is unfortunate that tenants in the UK have paid a total of £51.6 billion of rental costs in 2017, the highest it has ever been. Renting has seen huge increases over the past decade, with total costs more than doubling since 2007 where £22.6 billion worth of payements were made by tenants. If things continue as they are then renting could soon outstrip total annual mortgate payments, which came to £57.4 billion in 2017 but are not rising as quickly.
Campaigners have taken the information as evidence that rental controls are needed, as many tenants pay more than half their salary towards their rent. Dan Wilson Craw of the Generation Rent organisation believes many are renting because they have no other choice. He said: "The private rental market has not only doubled in the past decade, but it is costing the economy more. With social housing unavailable and home ownership out of reach, millions of people have no option but to rent from a private landlord.
"This £30bn increase in the rent bill is money that people would rather be using to pay off their own mortgage or simply put food on the table. The government should be taking urgent action to bring down rents, by investing in new homes and bringing in rent control."
Writing in The Times, Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson say Generation Rent exists and they are being "locked into lives of insecurity" by higher renting prices and few viable ways of getting on the housing ladder. In addition, while many may think of Generation Rent as being made of young and single people, a quarter of families with children are now renting, up from a tenth a decade ago. Even families looking to put down roots are struggling to get out of renting.
There are advantages to renting, however. It allows people greater flexibility about where they live and means they can move around to secure work anywhere in the country, rather than being tied down to one area because they own a home there. Any problems with the property are also supposed to be solved by the landlord, potentially meaning less stress for the tenants. This is assuming the landlord actually gets on with fixing problems in good time.