Why falling in love with renting makes sense
If you’re older than your mid-twenties, it’s likely you’ve grown up believing that the property ladder is your passport to happiness. If you haven’t got your foot on the bottom rung, you should, according to the perceived wisdom, be miserable. You’re trapped in a cycle of paying rent which stops you saving for a deposit, which stops you getting a mortgage which means you’re stuck renting. But if property ownership is the passport to happiness, why are more and more individuals and plenty of cultures actively embracing it?
Home-ownership hasn’t always been the norm in the UK, but a steady drive towards it has been promoted by affordable lending and government policy. In addition, in the post-war years, houses built for rent were often uninspiring, creating a desire to have a place of your own. It’s become a mindset that many cling to – even when it no longer serves our needs.
Whatever reasons we can find in the past for our obsession with owning, it’s clear that the situation is beginning to change. The private rented sector now accounts for around 20% of our housing and despite some landlords taking umbrage at tax changes, that proportion is growing. The very difficulty of getting a foot on the property ladder is causing opinions to change. With so many people renting, it’s normal. The largest proportion of renters are now in the 35-49 age bracket. Many are families with children who want stability, and more and more landlords are moving to accommodate these desires. Around 80% of tenancies are for twelve months, rather than six. Soon, open-ended tenancies, popular in many other countries will become a ‘selling’ point as landlords realise the value of a reliable long-term tenant.
The market may be forcing the issue, but there are plenty of reasons to love renting. That’s why even in healthy economies like Germany’s, people continue to rent. Renting is great, and here’s why:
Renting is flexible
In some situations, owning a property can feel like having a millstone around your neck. Renting gives you more opportunities when your circumstances change. Renting suits the way we live and work now. Get a new job in a different city, change who you live with or downsize if it suits. If you want to take a year-long sabbatical and travel the world there’s nothing to worry about.
Renting reduces hassle
Property ownership comes with a hefty dose of responsibility. With a rental, someone else takes care of the maintenance, checks the appliances and ensures your home is a safe place to live.
You know the costs
Mortgage rates can fluctuate, but it’s easier to budget when your outgoings are predictable. Any big maintenance bills that arise are the landlord’s responsibility. You’re safe if property prices start to take a tumble – renting is a great option when the economy is struggling. What’s more, your upfront costs are a fraction of those involved in home ownership. Your insurance costs will also be lower because you’re not paying for cover on the building.
Tenants are driving a lot of the changes in the renting landscape and that’s fantastic. When renting stops becoming a temporary measure and becomes a genuine positive choice – a trend that’s already in progress – we’ll see more and more tenancies designed around the needs of tenants. And we’ll see more rental properties being shaped into the long-term homes that tenants crave.
Renting is much, much more than the result of a failure to get on a property ladder. It’s about freedom, flexibility and living with less stress. The sooner we lose our cultural attachment to owning the places we call home, the better.