With Walsall youngsters not able to buy their own property, my research would suggest the progressively important role the private rented sector has been playing in housing people in need of a roof over their head. This, at a time of increasing affordability problems for first time buyers and growing difficulties faced by social housing providers – local authorities and housing associations – in their ability to secure funding from Westminster and then compete against the likes of the Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Persimmon Homes of this world to buy highly priced building land.
Renting isn’t like it was in the 1960’s and 70’s, where tenants couldn’t wait to leave their rack-rent landlords, charging sky-high rents for properties with Second World War wood chip wallpaper, no central heating and drafty windows. Since 1997 with the introduction of buy-to-let mortgages and a new breed of Walsall landlord, the private rented sector in Walsall has offered increasingly high quality accommodation for younger Walsall households.
So, whilst I knew in my own mind that the type and ‘class’ of tenant has improved over the last 20 years, I had nothing to back that up… until now.
According to some detailed statistics from Durham University just released, for the Walsall Council area, the current situation regarding social status of tenants shows some very interesting points. Using the well known Demographic ABC1 grade classifications which refers to the social grade definitions (which describe, measure and classify people of different social grade and income and earnings levels, for market research, social commentary, lifestyle statistics, and statistical research and analysis) this is what I found out.
Of the 20,380 tenants who live in a private rented property in the Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council area, 14.1% (or 2,873) of those tenants are classified in the AB category (AB Category being Higher and intermediate managerial / administrative / professional occupations), compared to 31.2% owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage or 4.16% who rent their property from the local authority. Fascinating don’t you think?
Looking at the C1’s (C1’s being the Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial / administrative / professional occupations), of the already mentioned 20,380 tenants in the area, an impressive 7,173 of them are considered to be in the C1 category (or 35.2%). Again, when compared with the owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage, that figure stands at 24.3% and 16.6% who rent their property from the local authority. So, if we use the conventional measurements recorded by the white-collar “ABC1” i.e. middle class ….
This means 49.3% of tenants are considered ‘white collar’ middle class in Walsall!
I could go through all of the social categories through to ‘E’, but I don’t want to bore you with too many numbers. The fact is that private tenants are moving up the social scale and whilst back in the 1960’s and 70’s, the private rented sector in Walsall had traditionally been viewed as a temporary tenure for 20 somethings before they bought a property, the increase in renting in Walsall, which I have talked about many times before, may be a reflection of increasing difficulty for this group in accessing other tenures, but may also be a reflection that people nowadays choose to rent long term instead?
Walsall Landlords need to be aware that tenants now demand more from their properties, the agent and their landlord and whilst affordability for first-time buyers and tighter controls on lending may mean that potential first-time buyers are in the private rented sector for longer, they will still pay ‘top dollar’ rent for a ‘top dollar’ property.
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