Analysis of the government’s respected English Housing Survey suggests that the reality of the private rental sector is far from the one that some portray, of disgruntled tenants in conflict with greedy uncaring letting agents and landlords.
Work by the National Landlords Association, analysing the EHS’s latest findings, suggests that in 2015-16 in England the private rented sector accounted for 4.5m or 20 per cent of households; of these, most are predominantly aged between 25 and 34.
Contrast that with a decade ago. In 2005-06, 24 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 were private tenants, whereas by 2015-16 this had increased to 46 per cent. The NLA says that over the same period, the proportion of 25 to 34 year olds buying with a mortgage decreased from 53 per cent to 35 per cent.
Tenancies are also longer than many expect, according to the EHS data. The survey finds the current average time a tenant lives in their home to be over four years.
Perhaps most surprising of all is that as a proportion of household income rent has fallen in the past 12 months; on average households spent 35 per cent of their total income on rent.
Energy efficiency is also continuing to improve, the NLA has found. The share of rental properties in the F and G efficiency bands are down from 10.6 per cent in 2013-14, to just 6.3 per cent in 2015-16.
The NLA says that within the context of these figures, the best way to speed up improvements in the private rental sector will not be through more legislation and demonising landlords, but through funding the enforcement of existing laws and recognition in the tax system of the vital role landlords play.