Renting used to be a dirty word in the 60’s and 70’s. You either lived in a ‘Rigsby Rising Damp’ style bedsit with wood chip on the wall and a coin operated electric meter that buzzed in the night, or you lived in a council house. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the British were persuaded that rent payments were ‘wasted money’. However, owning often makes less financial sense than renting and as the rate of home ownership is starting to drop substantially, as we roll the clock forward to today, there is no stigma at all to renting.. everyone is doing it. In fact, of the 269,323 residents of Walsall, 96,418 of you rent your house from the local authority, housing association or private landlords – meaning 35.8% of Walsall people are tenants.
The idea of home ownership is deeply embedded in the British soul. In fact 169,404 Walsall people live in an owner occupied property – 62.9%. Housing is at the heart of Government policy, as George Osborne has promised 200,000 new properties a year so first time buyers can buy their first home whilst recently, changing the tax laws for buy to let landlords. To get votes, Mrs. Thatcher, and everyone since, ran election campaigns promising everybody their own home, and as a country, we seem to equate home ownership the goal of British life.
So, as more and more people are renting nowadays, are we turning to a more European way of living? Well, I believe, as a country, we are. In fact, home ownership could be affecting your health! The UK, according to Bloomberg, is only the 21st healthiest country in the world. Germany is at No.10 and Switzerland at No.4 and home ownership is at 53% and 44% respectively in those countries, in the UK it is 65%.
In the Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council area, 66% of home owners said they were in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health whilst, at the other end of the scale, 7% said their health was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. Looking at renting, the census splits tenants into two types – 71% of Walsall local authority/social tenants said they were in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health and 11% were in ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health…
…whilst ‘private rented tenants’ in Walsall, were the healthiest, as 84% of them described themselves in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health and only 5% were in ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health!
I am not suggesting that low home ownership rates in Switzerland and Germany are directly linked to health, nor, do I expect Brits to all go to Berlin or Düsseldorf and realise how happy people are, when they don’t need to worry about all the stresses which accompany home ownership! Although, the numbers for Walsall and the UK do go some way to back up the argument! Nonetheless I do think that a lot of the upside to home ownership in recent years has been a function of monumental rising of house prices. Now that’s come to an end, it’s hard for some to justify buying.
Renting is here to stay in Walsall and it’s growing incrementally each year. Even with the new tax rules for landlords, buy to let is still a viable investment option. There has never been a better time to invest in property in Walsall, but buy wisely. Gone are the days that you would make profit on anything with four walls and a roof. Take advice, take opinion, do your homework. Read my blog or call me on 01922 311016 for any lettings advice.