With Sheffield youngsters not able to buy their own property, my research would suggests the progressively important role the private rented sector has been playing in housing people in need of a roof over their head, especially 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 Bovis’s and David Wilson’s of this world to buy highly priced building land.

Renting isn’t like it was in the 1960s and 70s, 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 Sheffield landlord, the private rented sector in Sheffield has offered increasingly high quality accommodation for younger Sheffield 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 Sheffield City 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 68,138 tenants who live in a private rented property in the Sheffield City Council area, 16.19% (or 11,029) of those tenants are classified in the AB category (AB Category being Higher and intermediate managerial / administrative / professional occupations), compared to 23.97% owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage or 3.10% who rent their property from the local authority. Fascinating don’t you think?

Looking at the C1s (C1s being the Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial / administrative / professional occupations), of the already mentioned 68,138 tenants in the area, an impressive 37,138 of them are considered to be in the C1 category (or 54.50%). Again, when compared with the owner occupiers who own their property without a mortgage, that figure stands at 28.73% and 16.57% who rent their property from the local authority. So, if we use the conventional measurements recorded by the white-collar,  i.e. middle class.

This means 70.69% of tenants are considered middle class in Sheffield

I could go through all of the social categories through to “E”, but I humbly don’t want to bore you with too many numbers. The fact is that private tenants are moving up the social ladder and whilst back in the 1960s and 70s, the private rented sector in Sheffield (and the rest of the UK) has customarily been viewed as a temporary tenure for 20 somethings before they bought a property, the increase in renting in Sheffield, which I have talked about many times in the Sheffield Property Market Blog 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?

Sheffield 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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