Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Most Families in London Now Rent Rather Than Own Homes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Most Families in London Now Rent Rather Than Own Homes

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

FEWER than half of London families own the roof over their heads for the first time in 30 years.

"Generation rent" is now in the majority after soaring prices, a mortgage famine and a disastrous housebuilding slump shattered the home-buying dreams of tens of thousands of Londoners.

Latest government figures show that just 1.656 million, or 49.9 per cent, of the capital's 3.318 million homes are occupied by the people who own them.

The rest are rented out by private landlords, councils or housing associations.

It is the lowest figure since regional statistics were first compiled in 1991 but almost certainly a record since the early Eighties. Nationally around two thirds of the population are owner occupiers.

Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter said: "These figures are proof of what most Londoners know already. No matter how hard they work or save, home ownership is slipping further and further out of reach."

The watershed comes three decades after Margaret Thatcher launched her vision of a "property owning democracy" with the flagship "Right to Buy" policy of selling council houses.

Critics say the landmark is a sign that London's housing crisis is spiralling out of control as workers face the choice of "insanely" overpriced housing or an overheated rental market.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Home Owners Association, said: "This is terrible news for London and Londoners, reversing a century of progress. "Londoners want to own their own home, but their dreams are being shattered as they are being forced to rent from a private or social landlord, or to go back and live with their parents."

Home ownership peaked in London at 1.815 million in 2004 at the height of the housing boom when buyers were encouraged to take out 100 per cent mortgages at five times income, but has been falling ever since. In spite of the prolonged recession, prices have continued to rise in London -- after an initial dip -- reaching unaffordable levels for all but the wealthiest young buyers or those with access to a generous "Bank of Mum and Dad. …

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