Only a quarter (26%) of private tenants are renting by choice, a survey by the national housing charity has revealed.
Threshold’s Tenant Sentiment Survey 2021 found that most renters would prefer to own their own home but most expect they will not be able to do so within in the next five years.
Asked why they are renting, only a quarter (26%) of respondents said they are doing so by choice.
More than half said they rent because they are unable to buy their own home, while 12% said they rent because they cannot access social housing.
The finding that the vast majority of renters over the age of 24 would prefer not to rent is quite starkAideen Hayden, Threshold
When responses to this question were broken down by age cohort, the greatest preference for renting was evident among 18 to 24-year-olds at 43%.
The majority of 25 to 34-year-olds, 35 to 44-year-olds and 45 to 54-year-olds said they rent because they are unable to buy their own home.
No-one over the age of 54 said they rent by choice.
Survey respondents were asked where they would like to be living in five years’ time, versus where they expect they will be living in that time.
Some 61% said they would like to own their own home in five years’ time; however, just 30% expected that they will own their own home by then.
Similarly, just a fifth said they wish to still be renting in five years’ time, but 41% expected that they will continue to be in this scenario.
Threshold chairwoman Aideen Hayden said: “This shows us that there is a huge gap between people’s aspirations and their expectations, as well as a lack of faith in the ability of the current housing system to meet these expectations.
“The finding that the vast majority of renters over the age of 24 would prefer not to rent is quite stark.
“As renters get older, the cost and long-term insecurity they face is a real challenge for them and, ultimately, for society.
“We are at a crossroads, with a huge shortage of affordable housing to buy or rent – most of our clients just don’t see a future that gives them what they need.”
When asked how secure they feel in their home, less than half (47%) of respondents said they feel secure, a third (31%) do not feel secure, and 17% feel neither secure nor insecure.
While the majority of respondents (79%) have lived in the private rented sector for five years or more, only 22% have lived in their current home for that length of time.
More than half of respondents have been in their current home for less than two years.
Asked why they had left their last rented home, 42% said it was due to action by the landlord, the most common factor being the landlord’s intention to sell.
Some 88% of people said it is difficult or “extremely difficult” to find a secure home in the private rented sector.
One respondent said they had contacted more than 200 landlords before finally securing a home, and five said they had faced discrimination on racial grounds or because they were eligible for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
While all family types indicated difficulty or extreme difficulty in securing a home, it also emerged that one-parent families are most likely to find it extremely difficult to find rental accommodation at 90%, followed by two-parent families, single people and couples.