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That number surprised you didn’t it? With the general election done, I thought it time to reflect on renting in the manifestos and party-political broadcasts and ask why?

As the best way to tell the future is to look at the past, we decided to look at the number of people who rented a century ago (1920s), and surprisingly 76% of people rented their home in the UK (as renting then was considered the norm). Yet in the latter part of the 1920s, builders of the suburban housing estates with their bay fronted semis started to sell the dream of homeownership to smart renters.

Up until the mid-1920s, the mortgage had been seen as a millstone around your neck. Now, due to some clever marketing by those same builders, it was started to be seen as a shrewd long-term investment to buy your own home with a mortgage. It fuelled the ambitions and goals of the up and coming well-to-do working class who reclassed themselves as lower-middle class. Meanwhile, the government encouraged (through tax breaks) people to save in building societies whom in turn lent the money to these up and coming new homeowners thorough mortgages.

Roll the clock forward to the decade of the young Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley (1950s) and still, 72% of Brits rented their home. Homeownership had boomed in the preceding 30 years, yet so had council house building. Then, as we entered the 1960s and 1970s, homeownership started to grow at a higher rate than council housing.

The rate of homeownership started to drop substantially after the mid-1990s, and now we roll the clock forward to today, there is no stigma at all to renting; everyone is doing it. In fact, of the…

61,420 residents of Runcorn, 23,286 of you rent your house…

from either the council, housing association or private landlords – meaning 37.9% of Runcorn people are tenants. Yet read the Daily Mail, and you would think the idea of homeownership is deeply embedded in the British soul?

37,185 Runcorn people live in an owner-occupied property (or 60.5%)

So, we have a paradox – homeowners or renters? The reason I suggest this is, I noticed on the run-up to the election that housing was used at the general election as a way to get votes. This is nothing new, as all parties have always used housing to get votes, although previously it was about which party would build more council houses in the 1950s through to council Right to Buy with Thatcher (and every one since) – running election campaigns promising everybody their own home in one way or another.

Did you notice at this election something changed? The parties weren’t talking so much about increasing homeownership but about protecting the tenant. It seems the link between homeownership as the main goal of British life is starting to change as we are slowly turning to a more European way of living. Renting is here to stay in Runcorn and incrementally growing year on year. You see, in Britain, there is no property tax based on ownership, which many other western countries have. Instead, council tax is paid by the occupier of the home (meaning the tenant pays – not necessarily the owner).

Both parties wanted to end no-fault evictions (which is a good thing), yet Labour went further and mentioned rent controls in their manifesto. As I have mentioned before in other articles on the Runcorn property market, rents since 2008 (even in central London) have not kept up with inflation – so again was that another headline to grab votes/election bribe? The fact is the majority of new British households formed since the millennium can now expect to rent from a private landlord for life – therefore, the parties focus on this important demographic.

Yet even with the new mortgage relief tax rules for landlords and the 200+ of legislation that governs the private rental sector, buy to let is still a viable investment option for most investors in Runcorn. There has never been a better time to purchase buy to let property in Runcorn… but buy wisely. Gone are the days when you would make a profit on anything with four walls and a roof. Most importantly do your homework, take advice and consider your options.