March 18: Habitat


It is well reported that the numbers of young people renting properties is rising and is predicted to continue upwards as our millennials fly the nest to become independent adults. The majority of this group, now being dubbed Generation Rent, do not expect to own their first home until at least their mid-thirties, and nearly half think they have no prospect of getting a mortgage


Most of the young people that I personally know in this age group have given up aspirations of becoming home owners and the mentality of property ownership seems to be shifting. Renting is now the norm and conversations about moving to a new house are more about finding a new rental rather than finding that unreachable mortgage.


With this trend, will we see a rise in longer term tenancies? Renting does not seem to be the stop gap between living with our parents and getting on the property ladder that is was for the Boomers, so will attitudes and mind-set be that living in a rental property will not just be a long-term necessity, but a lifestyle for the future.


Bearing this in mind, will landlords’ attitudes change towards the way their property is treated and will they give more concessions to tenants to adapt their surroundings to reflect their own tastes and personalities. My neighbouring property is rented by a young couple and on viewing the property – although safety regulations were met – the décor was found to be in need of a significant update. With agreement, they were allowed to decorate and have made the place look modern, warm and inviting, and above all the rooms echo their characters and lifestyle. No major refurbishments – just a fresh coat of paint, in colours of their choice and the old swirly patterned carpet has been removed, the floors sanded and polished, and a couple of shelves have been fitted. Yes – horror of horrors, they have been allowed to drill into the walls!


My neighbours, though hard working and responsible, have said that they don’t think they will ever have a home of their own and feel extremely lucky to have been given this approval to build their nest as young couples are instinctively compelled to do. From the point of view of the landlord, the property has not lost any value, and the tenants are more likely to care and maintain their environment now that they have worked to improve it themselves. One day they may even be allowed a pet!


So, what is the future for Generation Rent, are they forever to be swathed in magnolia emulsion with picture-less walls and carpets they dare not tread on should they less than new. Or – will landlords start to see them as caretakers with their own identities, rather than a simple source of income, and allow them to live in homes, not houses?

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