New poll reveals tenants are faced with a lack of choice and poorer quality homes

A majority of people renting in the UK say they will never be able to afford a home while four in 10 day they are stuck in cold, damp properties with landlords unwilling to do basic repairs and maintenance.

Overall some 77% of the 4.5 million households renting their homes in the UK would like to own their own home but two million or 59% think they will never be able to do so, according to a new YouGov survey for the HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance.

Some 35% of respondents said that they live in poor quality properties, 32% said they have a limited choice of rental properties and 20% said they are concerned that the home they rent does not meet fire and safety standards.

The poll also found that 40% would like to be able to rent from a responsible housing provider, 38% would like to see high quality safety and energy efficiency standards in their homes and 35% are in favour of longer tenancies.

The survey found there was general support for the Help to Buy equity loan scheme but respondents pointed out that the cost of buying a home is the problem and there are concerns that it merely continues to support an overinflated property market.

There is also a belief that developers have deliberately increased prices to cash in on the Help to Buy market, allowing them to increase their profit at the expensive of first time buyers.

There was not much support for Shared Ownership with just 46% of tenants regarding it as a good idea. There was also a perception that it is expensive as you pay for a mortgage and rent. Overall there was a feeling that more houses need to be built that are genuinely affordable.

But there was more support for Build to Rent as it comes with longer tenancies and means renting directly from a responsible company or housing provider and not from a private landlord or letting agent.

It is also felt that Build to Rent properties are of a higher quality and meet safety and energy efficiency standards as well as offering greater choice and with no rent deposit needed.

‘It is disgraceful that such high numbers of people living in rented accommodation are putting up with damp, cold properties and reluctant landlords who do not maintain their homes to the required standards,’ said Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance.

According to Kim Vernau, chief executive at BLP Insurance, any improvement will need a more pragmatic approach that tackles issues from multiple directions. ‘As potential first-time buyers continue to struggle to gain access to homeownership, it’s vital that real progress is made towards improving rental conditions,’ he said.

‘The continued momentum of the Build to Rent sector is encouraging as it has a crucial role to play, with numerous advantages for tenants, from cheaper access and longer tenancies to far greater accountability on the part of the housing provider, as opposed to private landlords,’ he pointed out.

‘At the same time, freeing up housing stock for young families by incentivising elderly people to downsize from larger family homes remains a persistent challenge. The clear solution is to improve the quantity and quality of purposely built housing available to last time buyers, which can also cater more appropriately to their needs later in life,’ he added.