RENT IS 41% OF INCOME –young people face ‘unaffordable housing costs’

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YOUNG people across the UK have told the TUC and Generation Rent that they face unaffordable housing costs, insecurity of tenure and exploitation by private landlords.

More than 2,300 young people responded to a request to share their housing experiences via a web questionnaire.

Half of respondents were renting (50 per cent), a quarter had bought their own home (26 per cent) and just under a quarter were living in someone else’s home (23 per cent) – most commonly their parents.

Of those respondents renting and in work, the average rent-to-salary ratio (the proportion of a person’s pay taken up by their rent) is 41 per cent, which for single earner households is well above the 33 per cent household income threshold for affordable housing recommended by Shelter.

Fifty-three per cent of renter respondents said that they paid more than the 33 per cent affordability threshold.

Nearly a third of respondents who rent (31 per cent) had a rent increase in the last year, rising to 46 per cent in London.

The high cost of housing has forced many respondents to live with their parents or in a relative or friend’s home. Of those living in another person’s home, 44 per cent said they would like to rent but could not afford to.

The average mortgage-to-salary payment ratio (the proportion of a person’s pay taken up by their mortgage) for home-owning respondents was 38 per cent, slightly lower than the average rent-to-salary ratio found by the questionnaire. It suggests that for those able to raise a deposit, low interest rates are currently making mortgages cheaper than rents for many young people.

However, more than half of the home-owning respondents (59 per cent) had needed financial help from family or friends to buy their home. Sixty-four per cent said that the prospect of interest rate rises worries them.

As well as the high cost of housing, respondents highlighted problems of housing tenure insecurity and landlord exploitation.

Ten per cent of private renting respondents said they have been threatened with eviction, and 39 per cent said a landlord had refused to repay their deposit or made unreasonable deductions.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Many young people today are having a much tougher time than their parents ever did. Secure well-paid jobs are hard to find, and without help from family, few can get a start on the home ownership ladder.’

• Research by the London School of Economics and Essex University academics has confirmed that the government’s benefit cuts finance tax cuts for the rich, with an income transfer from the poorer half of households to ‘most of the richer half’.

The report’s authors said: ‘Some groups were clear losers on average – including lone-parent families, large families, children and middle-aged people (at the age when many are parents).’