EVEN 25 years ago the vast majority of young people would have expected to be able to own their own home, seeing getting a mortgage as a normal part of growing up.

Their parents often bought their first houses in their 20s and moved up the ladder with relative ease. For those who chose not to buy their own home, or couldn’t afford one, council homes were a realistic and affordable alternative.

Such models are nothing but a pipe dream for young people these days, as a worrying new report highlights, since many face the prospect of never being able to own property. And since social housing is now so scarce, most have little option but to rent in the private sector, where tenancies can be insecure and expensive.

And the existing crisis is set to get worse, according to research by the Resolution Foundation which shows a third of millennials are expected to be still renting by the time they reach retirement age, potentially more than doubling the housing benefit bill by 2060.

But it’s not just a problem for the future, as many families already know to their cost. Younger people already pay a record share of their income on housing in return for smaller rented homes. Figures show that four in 10 currently live in private rentals at the age of 30, four times the rate of the baby boomer generation. Others can’t afford to rent or buy their own place at all, and remain at home with their parents far longer than any previous generation would have tolerated.

If things continue along current lines, says the report, half will still be renting well into their 40s and beyond. And, if this is to be the new reality, it says major reforms are needed to ensure private rentals are fit to raise children and grow old in.

Interestingly, the Scottish Government has already implemented many of the measures the Resolution Foundation calls for, including an end to fixed-term rentals and new specialist tribunals to deal with disputes. As part of the package, rent increases have been limited to once a year and longer notice periods made mandatory for those who have been in the same property for six months or more.

These regulations – described by Shelter Scotland as a “new dawn” for private renters – clearly recognise that many tenants long for security.

The foundation also calls for tax reforms to discourage multiple home ownership, although it should be noted that many private sector landlords are not big corporate entities, but individuals who - arguably wisely- decided to invest in bricks and mortar rather than a private pension.

But since the root of today’s housing crisis is a severe lack of affordable stock for either sale or rent, any such measures are surely only part of the picture.

The Scottish Government has ambitious plans to build 50,000 new homes by 2021 to tackle exactly the sort of pressures outlined by this report. But with concerns recently raised that homes are not being completed quickly enough, more urgency is clearly required. Indeed, despite funding being available, completions of new social homes fell by 12 per cent last year. The housing sector must find ways to speed up supply, especially since the situation continues to be exacerbated by limited stock across both the sales and rental markets in many towns and cities, thus pushing prices up even more.

Scotland’s housing crisis is very real for the young people who bear the brunt of it, and sadly there are no easy answers. As the experiences of the last few generations has shown, expectations of housing changes - and so do realities. But with so many competing financial pressures upon them, millennials undoubtedly face a particularly acute, very modern housing nightmare.

The least politicians and wider society can do is work to ease the burden before it becomes untenable.