DEBATE: Is it necessarily a bad thing if the UK becomes a nation of cradle-to-grave renters?

For Sale and To Rent Signs
By 2025, around 40 per cent of London households will be rented (Source: Getty)

Is it necessarily a bad thing if the UK becomes a nation of cradle-to-grave renters?

Alison McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South and former shadow city minister, says YES.

It is easy to see the problem in a housing market that prioritises ownership above all other types of housing tenure. House prices have radically worsened wealth inequality. Homes are built in the wrong places.

But there is good reason behind the British appetite for saving by buying a house. First, the simplicity. It is obvious what you have bought. Not everyone is a financial whizz, and investment products are complex. Second, even where house prices haven’t shot up in the last decade, a house feels like good value. It is a place to bring up a family.

Finally, many property investors forget why the average Brit buys a home. For those who have ever experienced bad accommodation, or being chucked out of a home, the security of owning the roof over your head is a great draw. It represents not just an investment, or a place to live, but also power and control over your own life.

A lifetime of renting cannot compare to that sense of security.

Read more: A third of millennials face renting "from cradle to grave"

Mark Davis, co-founder and creative director of property agency me&dave, says NO.

By 2025, around 40 per cent of London households will be rented, yet the focus is still on chasing a “universal homeownership” pipedream. Successive governments have left a trail of ill-fated policies in their wake, and our housing system is a mess as a result.

Maybe it’s time to accept the new reality (a large chunk of people born after 1980 will have to anyway), and shift focus to making renting better. We’re seeing some positive change, with more build-to-rent developers looking to the capital, but we’re way behind our continental peers.

In Germany, renting isn’t regarded as something you do because you’ve “failed” to get on the ladder. There’s more choice, and tenant-targeted safeguards.

Today, there’s less pressure to get married, have kids and move into a family home, yet our attitude to property remains stuck in the 1950s.

Why buy a fixer-upper in the ’burbs when you can rent a buy-to-let apartment in your favourite city centre and live the high life?

Read more: Time to think small if we're serious about solving the housing crisis

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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