A property renting democracy?

Home ownership has long been a central issue in British politics.

Only the other day prime minister Boris Johnson said it is overwhelmingly what people in this country want.

“It’s good for society, great for the economy, it drives jobs and growth,” he tweeted. “That’s why we’re supporting it.”

Fair enough, it’s something his party has long been committed to. But one has to ask, if greater home ownership is a central pillar of Government housing policy, why is it so happy to watch as an ever-greater proportion of the nation’s market housing moves from owner-occupation to the private rented sector?

Amidst all the fog of politics around building targets and household numbers, it’s become clear that recent years have seen a relentless drift of housing from owner-occupation to the rented sector.

That’s been demonstrated by recent research by specialist rental platform Ocasa. This showed the number of rental properties in the UK market has climbed by 1.1 million in the past decade, moving the UK into the top 10 countries globally with the highest proportion of rented to owner-occupied properties.

This may come as a surprise to those who promoted the 2010s as a decade of home ownership.

Over the 10 years following 2010, the number of UK dwellings grew 7.5%, from 27.5 million to 29.5 million. But rental properties grew the fastest, up 12.2% to 35.7% of UK dwellings – a growth of over 1.1 million homes.

“You need only look at the changing face of the property market for proof of this shift, with the rental sector increasing at a greater rate when compared to other dwelling types over the last decade,” said Ocasa head of sales and marketing Jack Godby.

“We’ve also seen a clear acceptance of this trend from the industry itself, with the emergence of the build-to-rent sector focussing solely on the delivery of better rental homes for tenants to occupy on a far longer-term basis.”

Whether Mr Godby’s belief that the trend is set to continue is correct or not, there is little sign of Government action to meet its rhetoric about home ownership, despite the ludicrous plan to hit social-renting even harder by extending right-to-buy to housing associations.

Buy-to-rent, build-to-rent, build-to-leave and AirBnB continue to remove homes from the owner-occupied sector. And second homes continue to take up more of it too.

All this may come as a shock to the angry young men soaking up the simplistic stuff from GB News and the rest of them which says build lots more homes in the wrong places and you will soon own your own home.

In fact, we are slowly becoming a property-renting democracy.

Jon Reeds