Home ownership in England has slipped to its lowest percentage levels in a quarter of a century, figures released by the Government show.
Just under two-thirds (65.2%) of households were owner-occupiers in 2012/13, marking the lowest share seen since 1987 according to English Housing Survey data.
Some 18% of households were living in the private rented sector, which is the highest proportion seen in records going back to 1980.
This coincides with a drop-off in the proportion of households living in socially-rented accommodation such as a local authority or a housing association home, which fell to 16.8%, the lowest share since records began.
Across England, around 14.3 million households own their home, four million are private renters and 3.7 million are social renters.
Home ownership peaked in 2003, when 70.9% of households were owner occupiers and since then the share has been slowly declining.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, urged the Government to “get to grips with our housing shortage”.
He said: “These figures confirm the historic shift that people across the country are already feeling: as house prices rise, the dream of a stable home is drifting further out of reach.
“That leaves families faced with the unsettling reality of bringing up children in a cycle of short-term private lets, without the stability they need to put down roots and get on in life.” The proportion of households renting privately remained steady at around 10% throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but the sector has since undergone sharp growth, which the report said was driven by factors such as the removal of rent controls.
There has been renewed interest in the buy-to-let mortgage market in recent years amid some decent potential returns for landlords as the tough economy has left many people trapped in renting as they struggle to raise enough cash to get on the housing ladder.
The share of social renters has almost halved over the last 30 years, from 31.4% in 1980.
Right to Buy, a policy widely associated with former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, has enabled many social tenants to buy their home at a discount.
The policy was recently reinvigorated in England under the current government.