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UK-based rent guarantor outlet Housing Hand is concerned about the growing number of middle-aged renters, and lacks confidence in the new Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher.

Using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Housing Hand noted that middle-aged Britons are three times more likely to rent than they were 20 years ago. Out of those renting in middle-age, as many as a third were found to be renting privately in 2017, up from just 10 per cent back in 1997.

Housing Hand flagged up concerns about these trends, adding that older renters and a growing number of freelance workers in the UK means there is rising demand for rent guarantor services.

Mortgages for Business – MPU

Seismic shifts in renter profiles

Housing Hand was vocal in saying that many people were reaching their mid-30s and mid-40s, effectively trapped in a life of renting properties rather than being able to buy outright.

Jeremy Robinson, group managing director of Housing Hand, explained: “We’re seeing the age of the average renter change, as it becomes harder to get onto the housing ladder…What does this mean for those renters as they get older? At the same time, the number of young people who own their own home is dropping, so the number of older renters continues to swell.”

Mr Robinson based his comments on ONS data, which suggested that half of people in their mid-30s and mid-40s had a mortgage in 2017 – a fall from two thirds of people in this demographic who had a mortgage in 1997.

In addition, two million Britons were found to be freelancers, which has a profound impact on personal finances and how people pay their rent.

Changing faces curb confidence

The large number of people who have served as Housing Minister in recent years was viewed as a serious problem for the housing market, according to Housing Hand. Following last month’s Cabinet reshuffle, Christopher Pincher has become the latest Housing Minister, replacing Esther McVey.

Housing Hand was concerned about the fact that the UK had gone through no less than 19 Housing Ministers in 21 years, which they believed gave office holders insufficient time to grapple with the rapid changes in the property markets and implement solutions to any issues.

Mr Robinson added: “The housing market is incredibly complex. Without sufficient time to analyse and understand its complexities, Housing Ministers are forced to make knee-jerk, headline-hitting decisions, which they don’t take ownership of, because they’re usually replaced by the time their ideas have been fully implemented.”

Housing Hands went as far as to suggest that it was actually in the Government’s interests to keep people in the private rented sector (PRS), revealing that some of the renters it worked with were paying as much as 70 per cent of income on rent in extreme cases.

The reasoning for Housing Hand’s claim was that in some situations, 40 per cent of an individual’s rent is taxed by the Government, so they would have much to gain from keeping people from ever leaving the PRS.

Looking at the large number of Housing Ministers the UK has had in such a short period of time, and the knee-jerk policies they have had a habit of pursuing, Housing Hand showed little confidence that the latest person to hold the office would be capable of addressing their concerns about the growth of middle-aged renters.

Mr Robinson concluded: “It’s unlikely that a long-term solution to the increase in the number of middle-aged and older renters will be found under such conditions.”

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Peter Adams
Peter reports for Property Notify about how political developments have a direct impact on the UK housing market. He does this, through his reporting on topics such as Brexit, government policy and the various political arguments that surround housing.

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