MIn September the housemates and I were faced with a no-fault eviction notice, and so I spent last New Year’s Eve hauling up my belongings in South London, moving back into my family home on a social housing estate. It was a humiliating experience. Moving back home felt like a step back to my mid-20s, but I was facing price hikes of at least 75% if I went back into the rental market, so I swallowed my pride. took.
When I’ve expressed my regret at being evicted from my flat, there’s one reply I’ve received many times: “Well, you’re at home now, you can save up for a deposit and buy a property, and Then you’ll never have to worry about it again.
But I have no desire to buy a house. If there was an option to have a stable, long-term rental in the UK, I’d take it. I know it sounds crazy. For many, not viewing their youth as a slow slide up the housing ladder reveals a lack of aspiration. Young prospective homeowners, after all, occupy a political battleground, with both major parties attempting to refine their offers to “first-time buyers.”
But even after weathering the rough edges of the rental market, I can’t help but feel that the cult of home ownership is an imposition on young people: When you get down to the real reasons people want to buy a home How much of it comes down to genuine desire, and how much of it is the force of circumstance?
The drive to play hard and buy as soon as possible partly comes down to how unreliable and bad the rental market is. Rising rents, no protection from no-fault eviction, few rights for tenants and little or no freedom to redecorate or even keep pets. These are all reasons why people desire to own homes, plus the promise of long-term security in your retirement when you finally live in a mortgage-free home. And, of course, there are many incentives to buy more houses and profit from them. The dream of the British often seems to be to unite themselves to avoid the menace of the landlords.
But still, home ownership is undesirable for me. I didn’t have mum and dad’s bank, so I would have to spend years being frugal, scraping together pounds and pennies in the hope of saving enough to make a deposit. And the goalposts keep changing as home prices keep rising. Even if I had come in with the money, I would have had to buy a house not far from where I grew up in Battersea. And to top it all off, dealing with the hassle and expense of maintenance and repairs isn’t a particularly thrilling prospect.
I’d rather spend my money on fashion, eating out, concert tickets – also known as participating in the economy. I know I will get lectured on financial responsibility, but if you work hard you should be able to spend on what makes you happy.
Why have so many of us accepted home ownership as a default to avoid the problems of the rental market? After all, the security of home ownership seems to be oversold. I was eager to read about the rise of “hostage prisonerwho face homelessness and financial ruin because they bought houses at variable interest rates that have skyrocketed. It is becoming increasingly clear that both renters and middle- and low-income owners are the big losers in the housing game. But it is still the concern of home owners that appears to be the major political priority. Tenants unions and tenant campaigns across the country are fighting hard against unfair evictions, yet they do not seem to have any major No voice is being found among political parties.
Can’t we have a rental market in which tenants are provided with clean, safe, affordable, rent-controlled housing that they can rely on for the rest of their lives? I know it’s possible, because that’s where I live now – my family home on a social housing estate, where we’ve lived since 1998. home ownership, rather than a system that needs expansion.
Realizing this requires radical action, but not some imaginative leap. In Germany, the home ownership rate was equitable 49.5% in 2021, and unlimited rental contracts are common. While rental housing can be difficult to find, renting is ideal – preferred, even – and offers a flexibility and affordability that suits both young people who want more independence, and older people. Even those who are happy in retirement after their families leave. home. Meanwhile, Finland introduced the Housing First policy in 2008 to end homelessness, providing housing to all who needed it, as Helsinki maintained a massive supply of social housing. The UK’s social housing stock was decimated by Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy initiative, which led to the creation of new upper class interests in home ownership. But our social housing infrastructure can be rebuilt – if only there is political will.
I know the housing situation in the UK is not going to change overnight. If I have a good career, I’ll almost certainly buy a house. But I see people my age waving keys in their faces when they announce their purchases on social media, and wonder how they can feel so excited. In some ways it feels like a trap. I think of what my announcement post will say when I finally give up and pledge: “They got me, y’all.”