Stagnant wages, increasing rents and rising house prices mean would-be homeowners unable to save deposit for first property
Rents in England are rising by an average of £300 a year, preventing thousands of would-be homeowners from being able save for their first property, according to housing charity Shelter.
While wages remained stagnant, the typical rent paid between 2011 and 2012 rose by 2.8%, or £297, said the housing charity in its report The Rent Trap.
As a result, it is becoming harder to save enough to raise a deposit. In a Shelter survey of 4,300 renters, more than half (55%) said that after paying for rent and essential bills, they have just £100 or less left over each month for everything else.
Even if those tenants could put that £100 aside each month, it would take them more than 13 years to save the 10% deposit needed for the average house price, according to the Land Registry, of £162,080. Pitiful savings rates – lower than 3% even on the best accounts – have further hampered people’s ability to save.
“Rising rents are leaving people with little or nothing to save at the end of each month, giving them little chance of ever saving enough to climb on to the property ladder,” said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.
“The renters we speak to have never been less hopeful. A relentless stream of rent rises means that most feel they will never move on from a life paying ‘dead money’ to landlords, in a home that they can’t make their own. And for some, rising rents have more immediate consequences – not enough money to spend on food, fuel or other essentials.”
In one in seven local authorities rents rose by more than £500 between 2011 and 2012, while some saw rent rises of more than £1,500, said the charity.
The fastest rising rents were in well-heeled Surrey Heath, where landlords demanded £146 a month – £1,746 extra last year compared to the previous year. The other large increases were generally in the south-east and London, with local authority areas including Lambeth, Wandsworth, Merton and West Oxfordshire seeing rent rises of 10% or more.
Mortgages available to those with a 5% deposit are few and far between, and those that do exist typically require the assistance of a parent or other guarantor.
Rising property prices are also making home ownership increasingly unaffordable. The latest official figures from the Land Registry showed that house prices went up an average of 1.7% for England and Wales last year, with some places such as Salford seeing rises of as much as 6.8%. Only Greater London outstripped Salford, with average prices in the capital surging by 8.4% to £371,223.
Abi Reilly, a teacher, lives with her husband and four-year-old son in Reading, where they rent their home. She said: “Owning our own home feels like an impossibility. The rent we pay each month means we don’t have the disposable income to save enough for a deposit of any kind.
“With rent so high, it seems impossible for people like us to save enough to get anywhere near what we need for a deposit. My husband and I work incredibly hard but it feels like we will never have the stable family home we want so much.”