Only a quarter (26 per cent) of private tenants are renting by choice, a survey by the national housing charity has revealed.
Threshold’s Tenant Sentiment Survey 2021 found that most renters would prefer to own their own home but most expect they will not be able to do so within in the next five years.
Asked why they are renting, only a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents said they are doing so by choice.
More than half said they rent because they are unable to buy their own home, while 12 per cent said they rent because they cannot access social housing.
When responses to this question were broken down by age cohort, the greatest preference for renting was evident among 18 to 24-year-olds at 43 per cent.
The majority of 25 to 34-year-olds, 35 to 44-year-olds and 45 to 54-year-olds said they rent because they are unable to buy their own home.
No-one over the age of 54 said they rent by choice.
Survey respondents were asked where they would like to be living in five years’ time, versus where they expect they will be living in that time.
Some 61 per cent said they would like to own their own home in five years’ time; however, just 30 per cent expected that they will own their own home by then.
Similarly, just a fifth said they wish to still be renting in five years’ time, but 41 per cent expected that they will continue to be in this scenario.
Threshold chairwoman Aideen Hayden said: “This shows us that there is a huge gap between people’s aspirations and their expectations, as well as a lack of faith in the ability of the current housing system to meet these expectations.
“The finding that the vast majority of renters over the age of 24 would prefer not to rent is quite stark.
“As renters get older, the cost and long-term insecurity they face is a real challenge for them and, ultimately, for society.
“We are at a crossroads, with a huge shortage of affordable housing to buy or rent – most of our clients just don’t see a future that gives them what they need.”
When asked how secure they feel in their home, less than half (47 per cent) of respondents said they feel secure, a third (31 per cent) do not feel secure, and 17 per cent feel neither secure nor insecure.
While the majority of respondents (79 per cent) have lived in the private rented sector for five years or more, only 22 per cent have lived in their current home for that length of time.
More than half of respondents have been in their current home for less than two years.
Asked why they had left their last rented home, 42 per cent said it was due to action by the landlord, the most common factor being the landlord’s intention to sell.
Some 88 per cent of people said it is difficult or “extremely difficult” to find a secure home in the private rented sector.
One respondent said they had contacted more than 200 landlords before finally securing a home, and five said they had faced discrimination on racial grounds or because they were eligible for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
While all family types indicated difficulty or extreme difficulty in securing a home, it also emerged that one-parent families are most likely to find it extremely difficult to find rental accommodation at 90 per cent, followed by two-parent families, single people and couples.