A ‘hard’ Brexit would disproportionately hit the UK private rented sector if immigration volumes from the rest of the European Union fell, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing.
The reason is that EU migrants tend to rent, according to CIH policy adviser John Perry.
Writing for the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Perry says: “Migrants are overwhelmingly concentrated in the private rented sector, so the impact of any fall in people coming from the EU will be far greater on this sector than on social housing.”
He adds: “Of the 9.8 million private tenants in the UK in 2011, some 3.8 million did not hold UK passports and almost one-third of these were from the EU. So, there might be a big effect on smaller local housing markets in places where the proportion of migrants has grown fastest.”
These areas include Boston, Hull and Corby, according to Perry.
The lobby group Migration Watch says a hard Brexit could cut net EU migration by 100,000 a year.
Other estimates are lower. The think tank Global Futures thinks the fall might only be 52,000.
But Perry notes that net migration would still remain at around 173,000 per year even if the 100,000 estimate in EU migration becomes reality.
Perry also adds that a ‘hard’ Brexit is still likely to involve some free movement, tempering the issue.
He says: “The government already seems to accept that there will be continuing access for professional workers, including doctors and nurses, although these account for fewer than one in five EU migrants.
“There is also likely to be some sort of programme for seasonal farm workers.”
But Perry says the nation still needs to focus on building more homes regardless of migration figures.