The surge of private rentals in London

Domestic property ownership in London has changed dramatically since the turn of the Millennium. The extent of this is revealed in new data released in the recent English housing survey, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The headline-grabbing report reveals that last year was the first time people living in private rented accommodation outnumbered homeowners in over a decade.

The data shows that 898,000 households in London are rented privately. In comparison 883,000 people live in mortgaged homes. These numbers alone show how much the market has changed, but the trend over time tells an even bigger story. According to the data, the number of people living in mortgaged households has fallen from 1 million in 2006, a drop of 17%. Over the same period the amount of private rented homes increased substantially. In 2003/2004 there were just 405,000 in the capital.

The changes show that London has seen huge growth in the rental sector at the same time as property ownership has declined. This could be caused by a number of reasons, including the rise in house prices in the period and the failure of salary growth to keep up with it. The amount of mortgages would potentially have been lower still if the interest rate had not been kept at a historic low 0.5% for the last few years.

The data points to the fact that London can be a great market for property owners looking to make an income by letting out their assets. This situation could change in the near future when new measures come into practise to make it more expensive for people to purchase buy to let properties and second homes. This could potentially have an impact on both supply and prices.

The Government is already taking steps to meet the demand for rental properties in the capital. The DCLG is planning to help improve the private rental sector and make it bigger by encouraging investment so homes can be built specifically to be rented. These would provide more choice for tenants and help to mitigate price rises.