Homelessness and housing charity Shelter, has revealed that one in three renters on low wages need to borrow cash to pay their rent – data which once again throws into stark reality the severity of the affordable housing problem in England.
Thousands of tenants are finding themselves in situations which force them to borrow money off friends or family – or worse, take on eye-watering levels of debt after borrowing from payday lenders.
Shelter has also reported that 75% of all tenants are unable to save more than £100 per month towards a deposit.
Both of these findings are shocking, and exemplify an affordable housing market which has reached boiling point. It’s no wonder that first-time buyers face an average wait of 13 years to save for a deposit, and for growing numbers, owning a house is simply unachievable.
Growing unaffordability is nothing new. A recent Resolution Foundation survey found that millennials will spend £44,000 more on rent than their parents did by age 30. However, to reach a situation where hard working families are at risk of racking up enormous debt just to rent a home is simply unacceptable.
It is high time that the Government considers the role in which the private sector can play. The bottom line is we need more affordable homes, and the Government should be exploring every avenue possible to increase numbers, and to relieve pressure on overstretched and underfunded local authorities.
In the run up to the General Election, it is an opportune time to call for change. Clearly tried and tested policies continuously recycled by previous Governments are not working. I urge whichever party (or parties) who form the next Government to seriously consider policy which supports innovative housebuilding models which actually deliver, such as privately funded rent-to-buy.
Tenants in our Rentplus homes benefit from affordable rents (80% of market rent); a 10% gifted deposit when they are able to buy and have the additional benefit of no maintenance responsibilities whilst they are renting their home.
Now at a time when tenants cannot even afford their rent, let along save for a deposit and stamp duty, it is truly time for a Government to take innovative and bold action.
Richard Connolly, CEO of Rentplus