More people are turning their backs on home ownership, as they find the flexibility of renting more appealing. Many people are simply not looking to buy property because they do not want the financial burden, according to research by insurer, Direct Line for Business. Of the 17 million tenants in the UK, around 70% – 12 million adults – do not have any plans to get on to the property ladder. This suggests that England is moving towards a housing model like other European countries, such as Germany, where a greater proportion of the population rents. Less than 50% of Germans are home owners, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Rents are controlled by the local authorities and there are strict regulations protecting tenants, as there are in the UK. The idea of the UK being a nation of home owners also needs to change. This research would also suggest that the government needs to rethink its own housing policy, which is weighted in favour of home ownership. The mindset that most Britons would like to own their own home needs to be reevaluated. These figures show the majority of tenants are now actively choosing to rent, not buy.

One factor dissuading people from owning property is the high price and, therefore, monthly mortgage repayments. Figures show the average price that first-time buyers paid for a property in 2017 was £207,693. That same property would have cost them an average of £138,663 in 2012, which is an increase of nearly £70,000, or equivalent to £1,150 a month. Around 22% of people who took part in the survey and were not looking to buy said they did not want the financial commitment. Interestingly, 22% of people who were not planning to buy believe the cost of property maintenance is too high. They said they would rather let their landlord deal with any problems or maintenance issues. Others like the flexibility that renting brings. About 9% wanted the freedom to travel and 8% did not want to be restricted to living in one area.

Scotland has the highest proportion of tenants, with 43% of the adult population living in rental accommodation. The West Midlands has the lowest proportion at 21%, and London, as expected, has the highest number of tenants, with 2.7 million renters which accounts for 16% of all UK tenants.

Business manager at Direct Line for Business, Christina Dimitrov, said there has been a major shift in attitude in the UK housing market when it comes down to renting. Although the price of buying a property is one consideration, many people are at home with the flexibility that renting gives. There is greater demand for rental properties throughout the UK, and new and increased legislation and licensing regulations mean landlords have even stricter criteria to meet.

With property prices continuing to rise much faster than inflation or wage increases, more people will be turning to rented accommodation for their housing needs. This shows there is a healthy future for buy-to-let investors, long-term. However, the tax increases and regulations are putting off some landlords at a time when the need for rental properties is increasing.

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