The housing experiences of young people across the UK – who have told the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Generation Rent that they face unaffordable housing costs, insecurity of tenure and exploitation by private landlords – was one of the topics debated on Saturday (15 November) in London at the TUC’s Big Youth Debate.
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 that of 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 the housing and homelessness charity 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.
“The message from the many young workers who told us about their housing experiences is that it’s unaffordable and insecure. This is yet another indication that the assumption that each generation will be a bit better off than the last has now come to an end.”
Alex Hilton, Director of Generation Rent, said: “Each week, the average young worker hands over two days of their wages to their landlord, leaving them with very little money to spend or save. As the number of renters grows, politicians must end this ballooning exploitation or face the anger of a generation.”