Is the UK shifting towards a longer-term renting lifestyle?

Property Reporter
27th May 2022
To Let 690

The number of rental properties within the UK property market has climbed by over 1.1m in the last decade, placing the UK in the top 10 globally when it comes to the balance between homeownership and renting.

New research from specialist rental platform, Ocasa, analysed current dwellings stock to find what proportion of the UK property market is accounted for by the rental sector, comparing this to other global nations, as well as looking at how this balance has shifted in the last 10 years.

The analysis shows that a decade ago, there were just shy of 27.5m total dwellings across the UK property market. With almost 9.4m rental properties, the UK rental market accounted for 34.2% of all dwellings.

Fast forward a decade and this proportion has shifted, with even more of us reliant on the rental sector in order to put a roof over our heads. The latest figures show that there are now over 29.5m dwellings across the UK market, a 7.5% increase versus 10 years ago.

However, the number of rental properties now stands at over 10.5m, meaning that this area of the market has not only seen a larger rate of growth at 12.2%, but it now accounts for 35.7% of total UK dwellings.

While a 1.5% increase in market share may not sound that significant, it means that there are now over 1.1m more rental properties across the UK than there were a decade ago.

But how does this market balance compare to other global nations?

The 35.7% rental market share places the UK at number 10 in the list when it comes to the nations with the largest reliance on their respective rental markets. Switzerland sits top where the rental sector accounts for 57.7% of the overall property market, with Hong Kong (50.2%) and Germany (49.6%) also ranking high.

Other nations to rank ahead of the UK include Austria, Turkey, South Korea, Denmark, Japan and France.

Jack Godby, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ocasa, commented: “Not only has the high cost of homeownership forced many to remain within the rental sector until far later in life, but we’re starting to see a generational change whereby the freedom and convenience that renting provides is becoming the preferred method of living for many.

"You need only look at the changing face of the property market for proof of this shift, with the rental sector increasing at a greater rate when compared to other dwelling types over the last decade.

"We’ve also seen a clear acceptance of this trend from the industry itself, with the emergence of the build-to-rent sector focussing solely on the delivery of better rental homes for tenants to occupy on a far longer-term basis.

"This is a change that is only going to grow more prominent in the future and we expect renting to become the norm for many more people until far later in life than we’ve traditionally seen in the UK.”

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