England is currently facing a severe housing crisis, earning it the title of “the most difficult place to find a home in the developed world.” 

Recent data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals that a quarter of private renters in the UK are spending over 40% of their income on housing. 

This is a stark contrast to just 9% in France and 5% in Germany.

This disparity has led to warnings that many people are becoming ‘trapped in poverty’ due to the high cost of rent. 

The Home Builders Federation (HBF), an industry group representing private sale builders, found that England has the lowest percentage of vacant homes per capita within the OECD. This group includes 38 nations, among them most of the EU, the US, Japan, and Australia.

The HBF has called for an easing of planning restrictions to accelerate construction, as England struggles with a low percentage of vacant homes and high rental costs. Stewart Baseley, the executive chair of the HBF, referred to these figures as “a wake-up call, demonstrating the urgent need to act now to prevent us falling even further behind.”

However, renters have issued their own warning that simply building more expensive market-rate housing will not lower housing costs to affordable levels for those trapped in poverty by high rents.

In response to the crisis, a manifesto issued by eight tenants unions, Generation Rent, and the New Economics Foundation called for more than three million new council houses, stronger action against rogue landlords, and rent controls. Conor O’Shea, a spokesperson for the renters groups, emphasised the urgent need for proper protections from unfair eviction, steep rent increases, and dangerous disrepair.

David Pett, from MJP Conveyancing, highlighted the severity of the issue, stating, “The current housing crisis is not just about affordability; it’s about availability too. The fact that a quarter of private renters in the UK are spending over 40% of their income on rent is a clear sign that the market is failing to provide adequate housing for everyone.”

As the housing crisis continues to unfold, it’s clear that both builders and renters are dissatisfied with the government’s response. With rents on new tenancies rising by 12% in the year to August, the highest level in at least nine years, and the proportion of homes in England failing to meet the government’s decent homes standard at 15%, the call for change is louder than ever.

The housing situation in the UK is undoubtedly dire, but with concerted efforts from all stakeholders, there is hope for a resolution. The first step, however, is acknowledging the gravity of the problem and committing to making the necessary changes.

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