More own their home in France than Britain: Levels of property ownership fall behind European neighbour for the first time
- It comes as the buy-to-let boom locks younger buyers out of the market
- A lack of new builds has driven a number of Britons forced to rent
- Last year 64.8 per cent of British homes were owner-occupied
- Buyers formed 65.1 per cent of France’s market – overtaking the UK
By John Stevens Brussels Correspondent For The Daily Mail
Levels of home ownership in Britain have fallen behind France for the first time as the buy-to-let boom locks younger buyers out of the market.
A lack of new builds has driven the number of Britons forced to rent instead to a record high.
Margaret Thatcher’s vision of a property-owning democracy has been replaced by one of the lowest rates of home ownership in Europe, according to the European Union’s official statistical body.
Last year 64.8 per cent of British homes were owner-occupied, but buyers formed 65.1 per cent of France’s market – the first time it has overtaken the UK since Eurostat records began in 1995.
Levels of home ownership in Britain have fallen behind France for the first time as the buy-to-let boom locks younger buyers out of the market
Despite the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, the figure has stayed down – only just above the previous low of 64.6 per cent in 2013, and significantly down from a high of 73.3 per cent in 2007 before the financial crisis.
French home ownership increased by 0.8 per cent last year, after rising steadily from a low of 60.5 per cent in 2007. Romania had the highest percentage of home owners in the EU, at 96.1 per cent; the average is 70.1 per cent.
Only Germany, Austria and Denmark, with a stronger tradition of renting, have lower levels of ownership than the UK.
A woman walks past an estate agent's window display on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge in London, England. The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has given his strongest warning yet about the dangers to Britain's economy posed by the booming housing market saying that the market represented the biggest risk to financial stability and the long-term recovery. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
House prices leap £18k in just one year to hit a record...
France overtaking Britain is partly due to falling house prices there and its greater enthusiasm for building: more than 300,000 homes have been put up in France every year for the past 17 years, with work started on 354,700 last year. Only 140,880 were finished in the UK last year.
House prices dipped in most regions of France, with a 1.5 per cent drop across the whole country.
Campaigners warn Britain risks becoming a nation of renters, without drastic action. Official figures suggest one-third of all homes will be owned by private landlords by 2032.
Soaring prices and stagnating incomes have made many young people give up on ownership.
Mortgage rules that favour landlords have also been blamed for making it harder for newcomers.
The buy-to-let market exploded after lenders launched specialist mortgages in 1996, with an estimated two million private landlords now owning a fifth of British homes.
Only Germany, Austria and Denmark, with a stronger tradition of renting, have lower levels of ownership than the UK
Unlike most owner-occupiers, many buy-to-let borrowers qualify for interest-only loans and can offset mortgage interest against tax bills.
Just 32 per cent of households in England owned their home in 1953 but the level began rising, boosted by the sell-off of council housing promoted by Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, before it reached a ceiling ahead of the global financial crash.
Campbell Robb, of housing charity Shelter, said: ‘For millions across the country this will come as no surprise, as owning a home of their own has long been nothing but a distant dream.
‘Anyone on an average wage will have to stay stuck with mum and dad or trapped in expensive and unstable private renting.
‘If George Osborne is truly serious about ending our housing crisis, the upcoming spending review is his last chance.’