Not Sure About This

Here\’s the claim:

From the student ghettos of cities such as Birmingham to the new flats strewn along the quays of our Victorian docklands, a record share of UK housing stock is now owned by small private landlords indulging in the middle-class pastime of "buying to let".

Here\’s some numbers:

Table 6: Historical Owner Occupation Rates  
  1953 1981 1991 2001
All households 32% 43% 66% 70%
Over 65\’s n.a. 51% 58% 73%
      Source: ONS

It would appear that the rental market is still a great deal smaller than it was, historically. Now, it\’s possible that that 1953 number ( ie, 100% minus 32% owner occupied: 68%) was entirely State or council housing, but I\’m pretty sure it wasn\’t. While there was council housing from the turn of the century or so, and more after WWI, the great boom in it came after WWII I think. I\’m almost certain that the vast majority of that rental housing was in fact private landlords.

What killed that market was the imposition of rental control (not just pricing and "fair rents" but the whole tenancy arrangement ws grossly weighted in favour of the tenant). That was really only lifted in the early 80s, under Maggie: before that as a private landlord you really didn\’t have all that many rights over your property.

I agree that the numbers of private landlords are higher than they have been for many decades but this is not historically unprecedented, we\’re actually moving back to a world we\’ve seen before. One with a thriving (well, I agree there\’s a blip or two at present) private rental market, alongside social housing and owner occupation.  An older model, one that was killed off by an ideological hatred of the private landlord in the post war years.

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