A third of Britons now rent a home and 70% and only Denmark, Austria and Germany have a higher proportion of renters.

What’s the latest?

Great Britain is moving towards a German housing market model with growing numbers choosing to rent rather than buy a home.

Around 34% of Britons currently live in rental accommodation, with 70% of these people saying they have no plans to purchase their own property, according to insurer Direct Line for Business.

The country now has one of the lowest levels of owner-occupation in the EU, with only Denmark, Austria and Germany having a higher proportion of renters.

Just half of Germans own their own home, thanks in part to a raft of government measures that ensure renting remains affordable and attractive.

Christina Dimitrov, business manager at Direct Line for Business, said: “The UK housing market continues to change, and we are seeing a major attitudinal shift when it comes to renting.

“While price is a factor, many people are increasingly comfortable with the flexibility afforded by renting a property rather than jumping into home ownership.”

Why is this happening?

Unsurprisingly, affordability is the main reason people are not buying, with the average first-time buyer property costing nearly £208,000 in 2017 - almost £70,000 more than five years earlier.

But a fifth of people who do not want to buy a property said they did not want the financial commitment that came with owning a home.

A further 22% thought the cost of maintaining a property was too high, and they would prefer to leave this to a landlord.

One in 10 renters wanted to retain their flexibility and be free to travel, while 8% had no plans to buy a place as they did not want be tied to their local area.

Three-bedroom terraced house to rent in NorthamptonAbove: A three-bedroom terraced house in Northampton that has been recently refurbished and is up for rent at £995 a month.

Who does it affect?

Scotland has the highest proportion of people who are currently renting at 43%, while the West Midlands has the lowest level at just 21%.

Despite the high cost of property in the capital, people living in London expect to spend the shortest time renting before they buy a home at just under 12 years, compared with a UK average of 15 years and two months.

Even so, London has the highest number of renters at 2.7 million, the equivalent of 16% of all British tenants.

Sounds interesting. What’s the background?

While Britain may be moving towards a German-style housing market in terms of the proportion of renters, tenants in Germany still enjoy greater protection than in the UK.

Renting remains affordable in German because there are strict rent control laws, for example landlords in popular areas cannot raise rents more than 10% above a local benchmark.

Tenants also have greater security. Most tenancies are for an indefinite period and there are limited circumstances under which landlords can evict tenants.

But the UK Government is also taking steps to improve the situation for tenants through the introduction of tougher controls and regulation in the sector, including enhanced protection for rental payments, while it is also banning letting agents from charging fees to tenants.

Top 3 takeaways

  • Great Britain is moving towards a German housing market model with growing numbers of people choosing to rent rather than buy a home

  • Around 34% of Britons currently live in rental accommodation

  • 70% of renters say they have no plans to purchase their own property

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