Number of families renting has shot up by one million in the last 10 years

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The number of families privately renting homes has increased by one million in the last 10 years, new figures show.

This brings the total figure to 1.6 million households, an increase of 50pc over the previous five years, according to the government's English housing survey.

Matt Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The huge rise in the number of families moving into the private rented sector highlights that renting is no longer a staging post for young professionals. Increasingly families rent for the long term, raising questions about the availability of appropriate tenures in the sector. "

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, described the survey as "a good guide as to the longer-term trends and a widening divide in the housing market".

"In this respect it shows that the number of households under the age of 35 in the private rented sector rose by more than one million, from 24pc to 46pc, over the past decade, while the number of owner occupiers over the age of 65 who own their own home outright rose by over 900,000."

The widening generation divide in housing in one simple slide pic.twitter.com/dyMJTBYXNY

— Lucian Cook (@LucianCook)
February 18, 2016

This highlights a generational divide, in which millennials are struggling to get on the housing ladder, and baby boomers are increasingly paying off their mortgages. The proportion of households with a mortgage has dropped to its lowest level on record.

The figures also suggest that the long-term decline in home ownership has paused in the last year, with 64pc of households being owner-occupiers. This bucks a trend of decline that began in 2003.

Increasingly families rent for the long-term, raising questions about the availability of appropriate tenures in the sector.

Matt Whittaker, the Resolution Foundation

Mr Cook added that short-term trends "need to be treated with caution, given the reported fall in private renting in 2014 follows a particularly large increase in the preceding year".

This is one hell of a turn around #volatilitywarning pic.twitter.com/pS4HL9R7N6

— Lucian Cook (@LucianCook)
February 18, 2016

The report also revealed that the average age of a first-time buyer has increased from 31 to 33 over the last decade.

The percentage of people who privately rent and expect to buy in the future has declined from 61pc in 2013-14 to 57pc in 2014-15, a seven-year low. This highlights how rising house prices and steep deposits are hitting optimism around home ownership.

Mr Whittaker added: “While there is now political consensus around the strong need to support greater home ownership, it’s important that households on modest incomes, particularly those with children, don’t miss out on the action.

“And with renting set to play a bigger role going forward, there is also a need for a new focus on steps to improve security and stability for those who may never make it onto the housing ladder.”

Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “These figures are a stark reminder that for millions of families and young people it’s becoming utterly impossible to create a stable future in a place they can really call home.

• Generation Rent: London to become a city of renters by 2025

Campaigners have called for more affordable housing to be built in light of the surveyYoung people are struggling to get on the housing ladder

“Instead of being able to put down roots, more and more people are stuck spending vast amounts of their income on rent, while house prices continue to rocket out of reach.

“Despite being in power for six years, this government has made little progress on the underlying cause of our housing crisis – the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable homes. It doesn’t have to be like this, but things will only change when we start building homes that people on ordinary incomes can actually afford.”

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: “In 2010 there was a housing market where buyers couldn’t buy, builders couldn’t build and lenders couldn’t lend.

“Our efforts are turning that around with more than 270,000 families helped into home ownership through government-backed schemes since 2010, while the number of new homes is up 25pc over the last year.

“And we’ve set out the boldest ambition for housing in a generation, doubling the budget so we can help a million more people into home ownership, while delivering a bigger, and better private rental sector.”