THE BLOG

What Is the Government Doing to Make Housing Affordable?

06/01/2015 13:46 GMT | Updated 08/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Not enough. That's according to a staggering 97% of renters in shared accommodation.

As May's General Election fast approaches politicians need to take note. With over nine million renters in the UK, policy needs to reflect their needs but, historically, parties have chosen to target older voters and homeowners. Recent research by The Electoral Commission revealed that 94% of outright homeowners are registered to vote, compared to just 63% of private renters, so it's not hard to see why.

But that has to change - the affordability crisis is getting worse by the day and renters can't take much more.

UK room rents rose 8% in 2014 up to £546 from £505. If they rise by another 8% in 2015, renters will be spending an extra £44 on rent each month, an expense they tell us they simply can't afford. More than half (56%) of tenants say they'd be forced to find cheaper accommodation if their rent was increased by up to £40 per month.

Is this likely to happen? Quite possibly - four in ten landlords are planning to raise their rents in 2015, with a quarter planning increases of more than 3%. This will come as a blow to renters and aspiring first time buyers trying to get a foothold on the property ladder. Future rent rises could make their current rent unaffordable and saving for a deposit impossible.

Thankfully it's not all bad news. The majority of landlords want to hold onto good, reliable tenants; over half (55%) plan to leave their rents as they currently stand and 5% even plan to lower them.

But those facing increased mortgage repayments - and the Bank of England has hinted that interest rate rises are coming - may have no choice but to cover the extra cost by passing it onto their tenants. This could have serious implications for a rental market already reaching crisis point, and there's no contingency plan.

As campaigning in earnest begins throughout the UK we're hearing plenty about Europe, the NHS and immigration, but housing has to be a priority for any future government in a way it hasn't been for decades. With 93% of tenants saying they'd be more likely to vote for a party that prioritises housing, maybe it's time politicians listened.