Brentwood - The North Manchester Lettings Market: What the Future Holds
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The North Manchester Lettings Market: What the Future Holds

The maxim that 'An Englishman's home (or occasionally, house) is his castle' is most often cited these days in articles in the British right-wing press that bemoan the apparent undermining of the perceived principle that a man can do as he pleases in his own house, which they hold up as an ancient right.

Did Englishmen actually ever have a unique right to act as they pleased within the walls of their own home?Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that it has been a legal precept in England, since at least the 17th century, that no one may enter a home, which would typically then have been in male ownership, unless by invitation. This was established as common law by the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), inThe Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628:

edward coke

"For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]."

What was meant by 'castle' was defined in 1763 by the British Prime Minister with an admirable selection of names to choose from - William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, also known as Pitt the Elder:

pitt_william"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail - its roof may shake - the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter - the rain may enter - but the King of England cannot enter."

It is clear from the above that the law was established to give householders the right to prevent entry to their homes. Like the 'rule of thumb', which was popularly and mistakenly believed to be the right of a man to beat his wife, the 'Englishman's home is his castle' rule didn't establish a man's right to take actions inside the home that would be illegal outside it. Its imply a statement of the right to quiet enjoyment of ones home.

Nowadays we look back with nostalgia and think that  the UK has always had a reputation for being a country of home owners... but the truth could not be further from the point.

Mass home ownership is still a rather recent innovation and therefore so is applying for a mortgage. In rural England before 1832, men who held freehold property worth at least 40 shillings a year were entitled to vote in their respective county. At most, that meant that 435,000 people in England and Wales held the franchise. In one sense little has changed as 40 of the 60 million acres of Britain are still owned by 189,000 families (Ferguson, 2008).

Prior to the first world war, mortgages simply didnt exist. Owning property was something to aspire to, as it also meant that you were no longer under the thumb of the aristocracy who owned the land you rented. It’s difficult to get a clear picture of property ownership due to a lack of records. But renting appears to have been the main way of living in Victorian England.


In 1901 11,897 people lived within what is now the M9 postcode area, of those almost 10,000 of them rented their property from a private landlord - a whopping 84%.

During the First World War, 100 years ago, this figure had dropped to 77% (the vast majority renting from a private landlord as Council Housing was still very much in its infancy).

Homeownership rose very slowly in the 1920’s and started to grow as the economy grew after the Great Depression. However, after the second world war, the priority was to get people into clean and decent accommodation ... so Local Authority’s (Councils) took up the baton and built large council estates.



As the UK economy got back on its feet in the middle part of the 20th Century and wages rose, people decided they wanted to own their own home instead of renting. Throughout the post war decades, it became easier to secure a mortgage.

By 1977, 61.6% of 30 to 34 year olds were owner occupiers with a mortgage compared to 8.7% of 30 to 34 year olds being in private rented accommodation (the remaining either being in council housing or living with friends or family).

Ten years later, in 1987, we saw some significant growth in homeownership, as 68.2% of 30 to 34 year olds had a mortgage and only 4.6% of people privately rented. A decade later and there was not much change as, in 1997, the homeownership figure was 68.3% but private renting had jumped to 12.1% in the same 30 to 34 year old age group.

Move on another ten years to the 2007 figures, and this showed a slight drop in homeownership to 65.8% but renting had continued to increase to 18.7% (in the 30 to 34 year old age group). The latest set of figures is for 2015, and only 47% of 30 to 34 year olds had a mortgage and an eye watering 33% of 30 to 34 year olds privately rent.


In a league of the top 47 economic nations of the world, where owning your property is permissible, the UK is only ranked no.38, well behind at least 20 of our European neighbours.



When we take a step back from the wider world and look at the Moston, Harpurhey and Blackley figures of home ownership, looking back to 1981, 30% of M9 households were owned by the homeowner, whilst 4.7% of M9 households were privately rented. By 1991 home ownership in M9 had risen to 42% and private rented houses had not changed at all still at 4.7%.

By 2001 things had started moving, with 47% of residents in Moston, Harpurhey and Blackley owning their own property and 6% of residents privately renting. We are all fully aware of the struggles of 2008 onwards, and this has had a huge bearing of the figures we see for 2011. In 2011 M9 home ownership had dropped to 39% and private renting had rocketed to 20% of all homes in M9.

5 years on from these last official figures for Moston, Harpurhey & Blackley, Manchester City Council have produced a housing report stating:

Over the next 10 years population growth within the city is estimated to increase by 95,000 people giving a total of 630000 residents living in Manchester by 2026. Again this growth is overwhelmingly driven by new job opportunities as we anticipate over 43,000 jobs will be created within Manchester (Greater Manchester Forecasting Model) and 56,000 jobs elsewhere in Greater Manchester. There will continue to be a number of higher paid jobs in the financial and professional service with emerging opportunities in the digital and creative, life sciences. However, a high proportion of the job growth is forecasted to be at or below the average household income for the city.

They produced a handy table showing current affordability of housing stock in the city:









This table shows us that the average Manchester home is unafforable to 62% of residents, starter homes with a 10% deposit are unafforable to 83% of residents and even the lower quartile housing stock is unafforable to 44% of residents. You can download the full report from 1st June 2016 here

Over the next 10 years, with 95,000 new people expected to move to the city, and already almost 15,000 households on the council house waiting list, Manchester city council will build a further 25,000 homes.

Maths isnt my strongest point but, with at least 110,000 people needing a home in Manchester over the next 10 years and only 25,000 homes due to be built; these figures seem a little off. Couple this with what we already know, people are struggling to save for and obtain a mortgage due to property prices, all I can see happening is both rent rates and house prices increasing across our area.

So if you are a tenant I am sorry but things are not about to change any time soon. Supply will continue to be limited and as a result prices will remain high and competition for the good/desirable properties will remain strong.

If you are a landlord you can be reassured that there will continue to be high market demand at strong prices for your stock and with the sales market continually growing you will see sensible levels of capital growth if you have bought the right property in the right location.

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