Saturday, 16 April 2016

31% of Aylesbury people Rent - Is that Healthy?

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, we were persuaded that rent payments were ‘wasted money’. Owning often makes less financial sense than renting and as the rate of homeownership is starting to drop there is no stigma at all to renting ... everyone is doing it. In fact, of the 71,076 residents of Aylesbury, 22,080 of you rent your house from either the local authority/social provider (i.e. council house or housing association) or private landlords – meaning 31.06% of Aylesbury people are tenants. 

The idea of homeownership is deeply embedded in the British soul, in fact 47,767 Aylesbury people live in an owner occupied property (or 67.2%). 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. To get votes, Thatcher (and everyone since) ran election campaigns promising everybody their own home, and as a country, we seem to equate homeownership with British lifestyle.

So as more and more people are renting are we turning to a more European way of living? Well, as a country, we are. In fact, homeownership 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 homeownership is at 52.5% and 44% respectively in those countries (in the UK it is 64.8%).

 In the Aylesbury Vale Council area, 77.38% of homeowners who own their house outright said they were in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health whilst, at the other end of the scale, 4.7% said their health was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. Looking at renting, the census splits tenants into two types – 73.82% of Aylesbury local authority/social tenants said they were in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health and 8.52% were in ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health …whilst ‘private rented tenants’ in Aylesbury, were the healthiest, as 89.5% of them described themselves in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ health and only 2.56% were in ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health 

I am not suggesting that low homeownership rates in Switzerland and Germany are directly linked to health, nor, do I expect Brits to all go to Berlin, Interlaken or Düsseldorf and realise how happy people are when they do not need to worry about all the stresses which accompany homeownership. The numbers for Aylesbury do go some way to back up the argument (and they are the same across the whole of the UK). Nonetheless I do think that the upside to homeownership in recent years has been a function of rising house prices.

Renting is here to stay in Aylesbury and it is growing incrementally each year. Even with the new tax rules for landlords, buy to let is still a viable investment option for many people in the town, but buy wisely. Gone are the days that you could make profit on anything with four walls and a roof. Take advice, take opinion, do your homework.
I am always available to discuss opportunities that may come your way and hopefully will be able to add sensible comment to your own thoughts
Approaching two years old now.