One in three families and individuals rent their home from a landlord or state organisation
Home ownership has fallen to its lowest level since Margaret Thatcher was in Downing Street, official figures have shown.
Just 66 per cent of homes are owned by those who live in them compared with a peak of 71 per cent nine years ago.
One in three families and individuals rent their homes from a landlord or a state organisation, the highest share of the population since 1988, when the movement towards owner-occupation was at its height.
According to the housing figures produced by the Communities Department, only one in ten homeowners are now aged under 35.
Many younger people are struggling to buy during the economic downturn which has affected incomes and the availability of cheap mortgages, yet competition for housing means prices have remained high.
Home ownership took off in the 1980s when Mrs Thatcher’s government made property ownership a cornerstone of its ambitions and millions of working class people began to aspire to own their own homes.
Helped by the sale of council houses, numbers of people owning their homes went up from fewer than 10 million in 1980 to 13 million in 1991, up from around 57 per cent of households to 67 per cent.
Figures gathered by the Government’s English Housing Survey show that both the numbers and the share of the population of owner-occupiers went on rising until the mid-2000s.
However, the share of owner-occupiers began to drop in 2003 and numbers of people who own their homes has fallen from a peak of 14,791,000 in 2006 to 14,450,000 now.
The fall in home ownership has coincided with the recession, which has hit numbers of new homes being built as well as incomes, and a sharply increasing population which means more people are chasing homes.
Researchers for the survey described the process as a ‘gradual downward trend’.
The survey also showed that state-subsidised housing in council and housing association homes has also continued to decline: 17.5 per cent of homes are rented from social landlords, down from 21 per cent in 1997 and nearly a third, 31.7 per cent, in 1981, before large-scale sales of council housing.
The number of people renting from private landlords has, however, increased rapidly.
Some 16.5 per cent of homes were privately rented last year, almost as many in the state-subsidised rental sector, and privately rented homes have gone up by 50 per cent since 2000.
The figures are released as ministers continue to try to press for more homes to be built and to help younger people with buying.
Attempts to ease planning controls on new building ran into controversy last autumn and ministers are still under pressure to water down planning reforms.
Earlier this month Housing Minister Grant Shapps declared that Whitehall has identified enough spare land to build 80,000 new homes, and that he is pushing big landowners like the BBC and Royal Mail to find more unused sites for housebuilding.
Mr Shapps has also launched the NewBuy Guarantee scheme, which aims to encourage lenders and builders to make homes available to first-time buyers with a smaller deposit.