Wednesday 12 September 2012

A common misconception

There's an article on 24Dash about possibly improving 'security of tenure' for private tenants by extending the notice period from 6 months to 2 years if the landlord gives them notice to quit, which might or might not be a good idea (seems fair enough to me, I'd also like to reduce the notice period from 6 months to 3 months if the tenant wants to move).

What is striking is this bit:

[The Inquiry] said successive governments have prioritised owner occupation, but it is now in decline.

No they have not, that's exactly what Home-Owner-Ism, an electoral gold mine originally struck by Thatcher but taken to extremes by New Labour, is NOT about. It pretends to be about "prioritising owner-occupation" but actually what it does is "prioritise those people who happen to be owner-occupiers when Home-Owner-Ism kicked off" and shits on all who come after them.

Look at the official stat's from the DCLG (Excel). In England...

- the number of owner-occupier households is only up by 1.4 million since 1991, and is now falling again, we are back down to 2002 levels in absolute terms and back to the mid-1980s if expressed as a percentage of all households.

- the number of social tenant households (council or Housing Association) is down by 0.5 million since 1991. Note: according to those figures, the social housing stock peaked at 5.2 million in 1981 and is now down to 4.0 million, so they 'only' sold off about a quarter of social housing stock.

- the biggest increase is in private renters, up by 2.2 million since 1991, the bulk of that increase was in the last ten years. Some of those will be renting ex-social housing, but by and large, more than half of new homes built in the last twenty years have been acquired by landlords.

It all stands to reason really, the real driving force behind Home-Owner-Ism is the large landowners and banks; the former love collecting rent and the latter would rather lend to BTL landlords than owner-occupiers, it being far less hassle for the bank if a landlord kicks out a tenant who loses his job than the bank having to kick out a mortgage borrower who loses his job.

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