The property market hasn’t been as its most robust over the last few years. But look at the history of land and property ownership in the UK. You will soon realise how amazing it is that there is any possibility of an ordinary person being able to buy a house. During the Middle Ages, an everyday peasant wouldn’t have been able to own land at all. And it wasn’t all that long ago that you could only own property if you were a man of a certain age and class. Property and land ownership has evolved greatly over the centuries. And it’s the progressive nature of the changes to the law that allow you to buy a house today. You may not be able to afford to buy property, but there is no overarching law that says you aren’t allowed.
Victorian Era and Early 20th Century
While you now might have your pick of the Banbury UK property market, it wasn’t always so. 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. At the time, you had to own property to gain the right to vote – and be a man. 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. But buying property was no easy task, with no mortgages in general use before the First World War.
Post World War One
The Great War changed Britain thoroughly. One of the consequences was that the war shook up the class system and the aristocracy no longer had such a firm grip on land ownership. Prime Minister David Lloyd George pledged to build a million homes for returning soldiers. But the period between the wars was an unstable one, as well as a time of change. The 1918 Representation of the People Act gave propertied women over 30 the right to vote. But voting was still tied to property ownership. And property ownership was still only available to the upper middle classes and above.
But in the 1920s and ’30s politicians were beginning to recognise that owning property could help the population to be more stable and politically united. In the 1930s, falling house prices and the availability of mortgages on new homes helped semi-skilled and skilled workers to buy their homes. However, home ownership was still largely the preserve of the middle classes.
After the age of austerity, baby boomers in the ’60s were determined to improve their lives by owning property. The demand drove prices up and eventually the housing bubble burst, stalling the expansion of home ownership. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme saw thousands of people buying their council houses. Later buy-to-let mortgages in the 1990s opened up renting out property to a more general market. But after another housing bubble burst, the UK housing market took another hit. Now it may be a struggle for some to get on the housing ladder, but people continue to buy and sell regardless.