Wednesday 26 June 2019 4:15 am

DEBATE: Is the obsessive focus from politicians on increasing home ownership misguided?

Clive Docwra is managing director of McBains.

Is the obsessive focus from politicians on increasing home ownership misguided?

Clive Docwra, managing director of McBains, says YES.

Politicians are obsessed with home ownership, including both contenders for Prime Minister. Jeremy Hunt has put a new “right to own” policy at the heart of his bid, while Boris Johnson has backed replacing Help to Buy. But many people are increasingly choosing to rent – and it’s not always because they’re priced out of the market.

Many of London’s increasingly mobile, young population choose to live in build-to-rent developments. They benefit from amenities such as gyms, communal areas, and office services that they wouldn’t have in a traditional home. They prioritise a higher standard of accommodation over simply joining the property ladder, along with the relative ease of moving and absence of costs like stamp duty and fees.

Moreover, ownership policies don’t always work. A recent report on Help to Buy showed how the scheme actually helped inflate property prices.


Yes, we need to build more homes for sale too, but the new Prime Minister should also back plans that enable Londoners to rent should they wish.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, says NO.

Our recent Home Owners Survey found almost eight in 10 renters want to get on the property ladder, but six in 10 who want to own fear that they never will.

UK home ownership is among the lowest in the EU, and the percentage of renters is highest in London because we have one of the world’s most pronounced gaps between earnings and house prices, plus a chronic housing shortage.

Home ownership offers security. While mortgage costs are fixed, rents tend to rise with inflation, with no returns. Meanwhile, with a lack of social housing, most private renters are on short contracts – home ownership offers families more stability.

Home owners can decorate as they wish and invest in home improvements. In contrast, our survey also found that four in 10 renters have trouble getting landlords to conduct essential repairs.

People without access to the Bank of Mum and Dad should not be locked out of the housing market. Owning a home is an investment offering stability and a safety net in old age.

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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