The compromise of private renting – one renter’s perspective

For-rent-signThere has been much talk recently about ‘Generation Rent,’ those of us deemed to be stuck in the private rental market.

A new report by PWC* tells us that 25% of all households will be privately rented by 2025. And that the majority of renters will be aged between 20 to 39. I see no surprise there.

I am part of Generation Rent. So I ask myself – is it really all bad? Having spent almost 10 years negotiating London’s rental market I would say no, well not for the most part.

Of course renting a place of my own has been (and continues to be) a pipe dream since moving to London, what I have learnt though is the art of flat sharing! If you’ve been there you’ll understand when I say that the perfect housemate doesn’t exist, cleaning rotas are deemed completely optional by some and that your local area improving because of the Olympics means your landlord will be tempted to sell and you’ll have to move. And of course that gentrification is real and sad for those displaced and priced out but perhaps inevitable.

Myself, like many of my London based friends in their 20s and 30s have had similar experiences. Now in our 30s, some of my friend’s have moved in with partners so share a mortgage, others have chosen to continue renting as the lifestyle is much better than they can afford with a mortgage. A few have even bought places through shared ownership, many after over 15 years of private renting and sofa surfing whilst they built up a deposit.

This month’s budget delivered bad news for renters and slightly better news for potential home owners. Cutting tax relief for buy-to -let landlords for example will just mean tenants are burdened with higher rent. It seems naive for anyone to think that without rent control of some sort, increasing costs to landlords will not be immediately reflected in higher rents to tenants. This is not welcome news when many private renters already pay over 60% of their income on rent; according to the Mayor’s definition ‘affordable’ rent should not be above 35% of take
home pay.

However, I also want to say something of the other side of Generation Rent, something that doesn’t make the headlines. That there are some benefits to renting, it has given me the flexibility to move around London, to discover new areas, make new friends, return to study,
limit commuting times as I changed jobs and not feel tied to a mortgage and choice of accommodation I made too soon. So I am still a private renter and happy about it. Will I want
to do it forever though? Probably not.

When my renting friends and I do decide to buy and start saving for that elusive deposit we will of course still worry about the affordability of living in a home and area we like, whilst no doubt valuing policies such as the Help to Buy schemes. Yet despite the challenges of London renting, for now at least, the flexibility outweighs the downsides.

 

Ambreen Ahmad
Communications Coordinator

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*PWC Housing Market Outlook 

Registered Charity Number: 1113331. © Commonweal Housing Limited.