Generation Rent: Why You Can’t Buy A Home Or Even Rent A Good One

Chloe Timperley

Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Canbury Press

Published: 23rd Jul '20


This book gets to the heart of why people can’t afford to buy a home – and offers radical solutions

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”The housing crisis is just getting started,’ warns Timperley in this important book.’ – MARTIN CHILTON, THE INDEPENDENT ‘An essential read about a broken housing market.’ – PETER APPS, INSIDE HOUSING ‘A lively account of arguably the country’s biggest social and economic problem.’ – MARTIN WOLF, FINANCIAL TIMES For millions of Britons renting a home privately is the only option. By 2025, more people are expected to rent than own their own homes. Even members of Generation Rent with good jobs and skills have been priced out of the property market. In this razor-sharp account of how a nation of homeowners gave way to a generation of insecure renters haemorrhaging cash, Chloe Timperley tackles the myths and mysteries belying so many attempts to ‘fix’ Britain’s broken housing market. She reveals who’s being shafted, who’s cashing in – and the radical steps we must take to give everyone a good home, whether rented or owned. A fast-paced jaunt around both buying and renting in Britain, Generation Rent is the essential guide to the UK’s ruinously expensive property market. Revealing how the UK came to have runaway house prices, Chloe Timperley dispels the notion held by some older people that the current generation of young people can’t buy homes because they are feckless and squander their money on avocado toast. First, she charts the rise and fall of council housing. From the early 20th Century onwards, high-quality public sector homes provided plentiful affordable homes that mixed social groups well. Then Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy sold off local authority housing and the number of council homes for rent crashed. Some council estates became known as ‘sink estates’, killing the municipal dream of post-war planners. As a result, from the 1980s onwards, more renters in Britain have come to rely on the private rental sector. Backed by generous incentives from successive governments, renting has become a lucrative form of investment and credit has boomed. Buy to Let pensioners and private equity companies have moved into the market, buying up and renting out houses and flats. Most would-be first-time buyers have been outcompeted and priced out. For those who can afford to buy, Generation Rent reveals that ‘entering the kingdom of home ownership’ may not be everything they expected, as a result of small properties and huge mortgages. In this concise book, Chloe Timperley tackles the surprising truth about housebuilding, including land agents, housebuilders’ profits, and the leasehold trap. She delves deeply into the world of private rented accommodation. Like Tenants by Vicky Spratt, Generation Rent charts the real problems faced by ordinary tenants, from extortionate rents for fleapits to no-fault evictions. We hear from tenants on the end of harassment from landlords and landladies and who struggle to afford booming rents. And we get to know those who are about to lose their home through eviction and the causes and extent of homelessness. But we also hear about housing from the other side – from the small investors who have retreated into renting property amid successive pension scandals. To research the book, the author goes undercover at a Buy to Let conference and landlord seminars. Generation Rent is for anyone who wants to understand the reality of private renting and the practice and pitfalls of home buying. It’s for anyone who wants to know why they can’t afford to get on the ‘housing ladder’ and why rent eats up half their wages. And it reveals a way out of the mess, rooted in the work of economist Henry George. About the Author Chloe Timperley lives in Sheffield. For Generation Rent, she interviewed MPs, economists and activists, went undercover at a property investment conference, joined a tenants’ union, and attended seminars on everything from ending homelessness to evicting tenants. Most importantly, she listened to the stories of hundreds of tenants. Extract Generation Rent is ultimately the story of how the UK turned its youth into an asset class. Over the latter part of the 20th and early 21st centuries, housing went from being a basic good to a financial asset. As it did so, our homes went from being a store of wealth for occupiers, to a store of wealth for landlords and speculators. This trend goes beyond the behaviour of buy-to-let investors, and begins in the popular imagination. Before we can restore justice and decency, we must change the cultural view of our homes as personal trophies, pension pots and money-making machines, rather than basic necessities for a normal life. Britain’s housing crisis is a vast, sprawling and multi-layered story. In order to make this book concise, some research and case studies had to be left out. I have tried to weave together the most pressing issues faced by today’s young (and not so young) renters and parental home dwellers, and place these stories in a wider narrative that affects us all. I have dug out and presented what I believe are the most credible solutions. And I have called for neglected debates to be re-opened – most importantly, on land and credit. I wrote this book while living and working in Sheffield. Consequently, some of the case studies here are from my hometown, but the outlook is national and the material spans the length and breadth of the country. Many of the trends are found, to a varying degree, in other Western countries. My hope for Generation Rent is that we can break free from the simplistic narratives that dominate the current debate about housing. I want us to leave behind tired binary arguments like ‘boost regulation v cut red tape,’ ‘build more homes v control immigration,’ and ‘help people get on the ladder v tell them to stop buying avocado toast.’ Instead, I want to start talking about what really drives our current shameful situation. I don’t profess to have all the answers. But if this book can at least start to change the national conversation on housing, I will consider it a success.

Additional information

Dimensions 129 × 198 mm
Page Count 352