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Action Required to Make Home Ownership More Than Just a Dream

by Alison Feemantle

Earlier in the week we saw the reaction of Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity to a survey claiming that property rental could soon become a permanent way of life for many. The organisation suggested that the government had to wake up to the reality that only a quarter of the UK population may be owning their own home by the year 2025 and to ensure that improvements were made in all areas.

“It’s time government woke up to the fact that ‘rental Britain’ is here to stay,” said Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb.

While these are apt comments, some observers were surprised that the organisation didn’t take the opportunity to suggest that home ownership needs to be more affordable. To be fair however, Shelter have been vocal on this subject in the past but for the time being, this particular challenge has been taken up by another charity – the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The organisation focuses on potential buyers between the ages of 18 and 24: At present it claims that 2.4 million of them live in private rented accommodation but as they attempt to save for home ownership, ‘inflated’ house prices mean that they face an uncertain future.

The foundation then calls for major reforms in order to avoid a permanent rental trap by the start of the next decade. By 2020 it claims that young people will be staying with their parents for longer and they will subsequently need to call on those parents to help them purchase their own home.

Those that decide that staying at home has run its course face the prospect of a long period of private rental.

“The challenges facing young people by 2020 will require fundamental changes to the UK housing system. Young people are particularly vulnerable in a badly functioning housing system due to their lack of resources and opportunities,” the report states.

It goes on to echo the comments made by Shelter in suggesting that huge reforms are needed in the private rental sector.

“There is a particular need to reform the private rental sector, balancing the interests of both landlords and tenants. The growing number of families living in the private rental sector will create a need for more stability in the sector,” the report concludes.

While Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation may be approaching things from slightly different angles, they both agree that home ownership may become just a distant dream unless more positive steps are taken to address the issue.

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