It seems that the private rented market is ruling the roost, if recently-released figures are anything to go by.

Over the past 25 years, the number of homeowners in England has significantly declined, and it’s now touched its lowest level, data from the government’s English Housing Survey has revealed.

The report claims that the share of owner occupiers slipped to 65.2% in 2012/13 from around 71% a decade earlier. Meanwhile, the share of private tenants exceeded that of social renters for the first time (18% vs 16.8%), according to the official figures.

The drop in ownership levels could be attributed to the spiralling house prices and the tighter access to mortgage loans, which have prompted campaigners to urge the government to increase the availability of more affordable homes to residents, Property Wire commented.

The number of owner occupiers started decreasing in 2006, when it had hit a record level of nearly 14.8 million. Since then they have been falling by almost 500,000 a year, including 51,000 in 2012/2013 alone.

According to the authors of the report, the share of private sector households hovered around 10% in the 1980s and 1990s, but since then the sector has experienced a major shake-up and its size has almost doubled. There are several factors thought to have played a role in the expansion of the private rented market, including the abolition of rent controls in the late 1990s, the introduction of assured short-hold tenancies and the accessibility of buy-to-let mortgages. Many buyers also resorted to renting a property rather than purchasing one due to the lower mortgage availability resulting from the credit crisis.

It’s important to note that the survey was conducted before the government’s Help to Buy took off in 2013, when the increasing confidence among lenders and property buyers triggered a steady rise in transactions.

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