We are constantly told that Britain is in the grips of a housing crisis that is spiralling out of control. What exactly does this vague term mean? Who does it affect? How can we change it? In part 1 of HAmag’s #ukhomes101 series, we explain exactly what the housing crisis is and what it means for the British population. Discuss on twitter now with #ukhousing101 or let us know if there’s any element of UK housing you wish to discuss.
What is it?
Put simply, a housing crisis comes about when rapid increases in the price of property reach unsustainable levels relative to incomes, price-to-rent ratios, and other economic indicators of affordability. A housing crisis is a situation where people with a full time income still can’t afford a home because the market values are astronomical.
How is it affecting Britain?
The distinct lack of affordable, decent homes for the UK population is having adverse effects throughout the country. Here a just a few examples of what happens when a nation finds itself within a housing crisis:
- Home ownership is no longer an option for many. Due to the sheer scale of inflation, house prices are now estimated to be almost seven times people’s incomes. This means that despite people having full time employment, the chances of them being able to save and buy a house without the support of a relative is becoming exceedingly slim. In the past ten years, home ownership fell for the first time since Census records started. This leads to:
- An increasing number of people renting from private landlords. Over 9 million tenants in Britain currently reside in private rented accommodation, 1.3 million of which are families with children. Renting unfortunately doesn’t offer the security that ownership provides, with increasing rents, hidden fees, loss of deposits and the constant threat eviction a persistent concern. It is also incredibly hard to regulate – one in three private rented homes in England alone fail to achieve the Decent Homes Standard.
- Current mortgages stretch people too thin. A large portion of people who have managed to buy their own house have done so at a time where mortgages are so high and at the very top of their budget that there is no safety net and monthly repayments can be hard to meet. As a result of this 28,900 homes were repossessed across the UK, just in 2013. This is causing a rise in:
- Homelessness. Perhaps the most dramatic and sad impacts of the housing crisis is the distinct increase in homelessness that is being reported throughout Britain. There are now more than 50,000 homeless households in the UK each year. The displaced may then need to years in temporary accommodation. More than 2,000 people a year will be even worse off, left with no other option but to sleep rough on the streets.
Almost all government bodies and housing professionals are in agreement on one thing at least – We must end the housing crisis within a generation. How to we ensure that everyone has access to a decent, affordable home?
Stay tuned for part 2 of our ‘Housing Crisis’ series and follow us on twitter for updates. We want to hear the industry comment, so we're asking our readers to take to twitter using #ukhousing101 to discuss all things housing with us! Follow us @ha_magazine.