THE housing crisis could force millions of families to rent from rogue landlords, a charity warned yesterday.
There are more than 3.4 million households in rental accommodation in England alone, up 40% in the last five years.
Experts say a combination of soaring prices and house building at its lowest level since the 1920s could see that figure rocket further.
But the homelessness charity Shelter has warned that the private rental industry is already a free-for-all, with tenants falling victim to dodgy operators.
Roger Harding of Shelter said: “If you’re renting, your landlord can turf you out with two months’ notice. That’s two months to find a school for your kids, new roof over your head and new ways to get to work.
“The industry is also massively under-regulated. You don’t need a licence to be a landlord and there is no mandatory training.”
The warning follows a report from the National Housing Federation predicting the number of people owning a home will slump to just 63.8% over the next decade.
Average house prices in England are also set to surge 21.3% from £214,647 in 2011 to £260,304 in 2016.
The federation’s David Orr said: “With home ownership in decline, rents rising rapidly and social housing waiting lists at a record high, it’s time to face up to the fact that we have a totally dysfunctional housing market. Home ownership is becoming the preserve of the wealthy and, in parts of the country like London, the very wealthy.”
Average rents in the private sector are also forecast to increase sharply by 20% over the next five years.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said yesterday: “The trebling of house prices in the 10 years from 1997 has locked too many out of owning their own home. I want to see a period of price stability so that more homes become affordable.
“We also need to get Britain building again. That’s why I’ve announced plans to release thousands of acres of land for housebuilding.”
The number of mortgages approved for house purchases increased 1.5% to 49,239 in July, up from a four-month low in April, the Bank of England said. But this represented a slowdown on the previous month, when the rate increased by 4%.
There was more bad news as one of the world’s top economic experts warned Britain was in a debt “danger zone”.
Chancellor George Osborne claimed to have made Britain a “safe haven” from global economic instability. But Steve Cecchetti, chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, said that the UK’s government, household and corporate debts will depress economic growth and could spark a crisis.
He said: “Advanced countries with high debt must act quickly and decisively.
“The longer they wait, the bigger the negative impact will be on growth, and the harder it will be to adjust.”