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Private renting rises above social housing

The number of people renting from private landlords has surpassed the amount who live in council and housing association homes for the first time.New figures, revealed in the English Housing Survey, shows that four million households now occupy private houses, compared to 3.7 million that are in social accommodation.Meanwhile, just 14.3 (65.2 per cent) million own their own property, the lowest this figure has been since 1988 - and it continues to drop.The Department for Communities and Local Government, which publishes the survey each year, said: "The proportion of all households in owner occupation increased steadily from the 1980s to 2003 when it reached a peak of 71 per cent."Since then, there has been a gradual decline in owner occupation to the current 65 per cent."Private renting in England had held steady at around ten per cent throughout the 1980s and 1990's, but a sharp increase has seen it nearly double since then.The report states that this was due to a number of reasons, including the removal of rent controls in the 1990s, shorthold tenancy agreements and the introduction of the buy-to-let mortgage by lenders.Right-to-buy policies introduced by the Conservatives during the 1980s have contributed to the fall in social housing, according to the study.It allowed many tenants to purchase the homes they were living in, meaning the proportion of households living in council housing dropped from 31 per cent in 1980 to 19 per cent in 2000.Shelter, a housing charity, pointed to the fact that people, particularly young individuals, are being priced out of the property ladder to explain the increase in private renting.It added that the average earner would need to double their income in order to keep up with the rising housing prices.The number of new homes being built has also risen, according to the report, due to things such as the Funding for Lending Scheme, as well as the renewed availability of mortgage funds. 

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