There are more than 11 million people who rent privately from their landlord in the UK. It has recently been estimated that private renters spend 50% of their earnings on paying rent. In London, that figure rises to a staggering 75% of wages spent on rent. Deregulation, revenge evictions, parliamentary corruption and day-to-day instability are the realities for the eleven million people currently renting privately in the UK. As a result, many private renters now find themselves trapped and are more likely to be found living in poverty than other economic classes.
For example, many people are jumping into relationships and quickly moving in together in order to afford to rent a place to live. However, there has been a growing phenomenon when there’s a break up in the relationship, neither of them can afford to move out. As a result, they find themselves stuck in a situation where they feel trapped.
According to statistics drawn from the book, 4 million private renters are said to be living in poverty in the UK according to analysis from the New Policy Institute. 50% of those who rent privately and live in poverty are employed. The average family that lives in privately rented accommodation can only afford to save £63 a month. With the average deposit for a mortgage in 2015 being £71,078, it would take an average family 94 years to save up for such a deposit.
I recently interviewed Samir Jeraj who, with Rosie Walker, recently published the book The Rent Trap: How we Fell into It and How we Get Out of It for Urban Life. In this book, the authors critically explore what is really going on in the private rented sector and expose the powers which are conspiring to oppose regulation in the housing market. You can read the interview here.
We find ourselves in a housing crisis. Affordable housing is one of the biggest issues facing my generation. We are known as generation rent as experts say we are condemned to a sentence of life long renting.
How can the church respond to this growing phenomenon? What does the Good News look like to generation rent? These are the questions that we must begin to seriously grapple with if we are going to engage with our cities in meaningful ways.