While it may not seem like it, the housing situation in the UK used to be stable and strong. In the 1970s, there was enough affordable social housing for those who were looking for a decent and safe alternative to buying a home. By 1980, the housing environment started to change with the introduction of the right to buy scheme.
Although council tenants have had the privilege of buying their rented homes at reduced rates, the Housing Act of 1980 introduced major discounts that eventually left councils with less money for building new homes. As a result, fewer replacement properties were available for people and families looking for affordable housing.
From then on, building council homes became a challenge for any Government and their number steadily decreased through the years.
The UK housing market experienced a resurgence starting in 1983 until the end of the decade. By the early 1990s, interest rates increased by as much as 15% and the economic recession drastically changed the landscape. The next few years were marked by several highs and lows, but the supply of new and decent affordable homes continued to decline.
In 2019, several councils started building new homes to reach the estimated target of 10,000 new houses per year—then the pandemic sent the world into lockdown in March 2020.
The situation now
Despite the pandemic and its effects on the global economy, the Office for National Statistics recorded an 8.5% increase in the prices of UK homes. This was probably a result of England and Wales’ stamp duty holiday that put a price threshold on properties bought from July last year until June 2021. Housing prices are expected to jump back to their previous rates after September 30 2021.
While the UK housing market is still in full swing, many households find it difficult to own homes or rent decent properties at affordable rates. There are promising figures, but the demand for houses is still greater than the number of properties available.
Alarming facts about the UK housing crisis
To get a clearer picture of the current UK housing situation, here are some alarming facts about it:
- As of late 2019, over 10,000 individuals were residing in emergency homes. This number included more than 3,800 children. The numbers should have increased since then.
- Around 340,000 homes must be built every year in the UK, with about nearly 150,000 allotted to rented social homes.
To address the crisis, at least three million new homes should be built in 20 years. Over one million must be for disabled and homeless people, and another one million or so should be for younger families that cannot afford private rentals.
- Over three million individuals live in overcrowded properties.
In an overcrowded home, individuals aged ten years or over and are of a different sex sleep in one room—be it a bedroom, study, or living room. The only exception is couples who share a room.
- Private and social rentals expose renters to certain risks.
Rental properties, both private and social, are in poor conditions. Disrepair in home issues exposes residents to health risks, making their properties unliveable.
- About 400,000 individuals are at risk of being continuously homeless.
The UK has people living in shelters, homeless people, and individuals living in temporary accommodations—and they are the more or less 400,000 who make up the homeless and hidden homeless population.
- Approximately 2.5 million tenants cannot afford their mortgage or rent.
What can be done about the crisis?
The UK government has created several solutions to address the country’s alarming housing crisis, but none has been completely successful so far. Here are possible actions that can be taken.
A new approach to building new homes
As suggested by the National Housing Federation, using new methods in building homes can be a good solution to the crisis. Authorities can look for cost-efficient alternatives like building home structures in factories before they are brought and assembled on location.
Better mortgages and property taxes
Mortgages and taxes play significant roles in the UK housing crisis. The current system puts landlords at an advantage over their tenants. Investors enjoy incentives every time they add money to a property. Additionally, regardless of the type of dwelling a renter has—a one-bedroom flat for a family of three or a house with an extra bedroom—the taxes are the same.
There should be a balanced mortgage and property taxes system so both landlords and tenants are on the same level. Better mortgages and taxes also mean regulating property prices.
Professionalise the private rental sector
The private rentals sector should follow a more organised system. At present, tenants are allowed to stay in a rented property for one year, or for a minimum of six months. This is a major problem for families that cannot afford to jump from one rented home to another.
Additionally, renters should be encouraged to exercise their tenant rights and challenge unjust rent increases and unreturned rental deposits.
Coordinate with your landlord
If you think you are in danger of losing your rented home, or are having issues with disrepair in your home, communicate with your landlord right away. If they refuse to coordinate with you over your disrepair, even after the 21 days waiting period, get in touch with the experts at Disrepair Claim.