The latest English Housing Survey has shown that more people are deserting home ownership to live in the private rented sector.
The survey covering 2011/2012, published yesterday, says that while 65% of households in England are owner occupiers, this compares with a peak of 71% in 2003.
Altogether, 17% (around 3.8m households) live in the private rented sector which is now the same size as the social sector.
The survey also shows that rents in the private sector have increased less than in the social sector since 2008.
Average rents in the private rented sector increased by 7.18% compared with a 16.9% increase in the social sector over the same period.
The survey has also confirmed that the sector is now at its largest since the early 1990s, equalling that of the social rented sector, with the last year showing ‘no significant change’ in private sector rents over the past year.
The report notes also that tenants who have remained in their property for ten years or more face much lower rents, on average £123 a week, compared with the average £173 paid by those resident for less than three years.
Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, said: “In difficult economic times, average rents in the private rented sector have increased since 2008 by significantly less than the social sector, despite private landlords not benefiting from the £6.5bn spent by the Government on housing.
“It demonstrates that at a time when the sector is the only one growing, rents are best controlled by boosting the supply of properties.
“The report notes that those tenants staying in their properties for longer face significantly lower rents as landlords much prefer good tenants to stay on. One in three private sector tenants has lived in their home for more than three years.
“This makes Shelter’s calls for five-year tenancies redundant, given that tenants are already able to stay in a property for up to ten years and more. Furthermore, their proposals to link longer contracts with annual rent rises linked to inflation would at present be bad news for tenants who are on average seeing rents increase at present by less than inflation.”
Ward continued: “A growing market is good news for the economy since every £1 invested in the private rented sector provides a return to the economy of £3.50 through expenditure on building work and furniture.
“With the housing supply crisis ongoing, we call on ministers to do all they can to support the almost 90% of smaller-scale landlords to provide the new homes that are desperately needed.
“Investment on properties would be greatly improved if ministers treated landlords as a business within the taxation system.”