A generational split is emerging between renters

Anna Bibby, 13 April 2021

The change in renters’ priorities have been well documented over the last 12 months - however, the wants and needs of tenants aren’t as cut and dry as the press would have you believe.

Since the pandemic, there has been a notable shift in what tenants are looking for when browsing for a new home. When the property market reopened last year, a ‘race for space’ was widely reported, where homebuyers and renters were leaving city and town centres for more rural areas. However, a recent study has found that this has only been applicable to a certain demographic when it comes to renting.

The results of a survey carried out by the Deposit Protection Service found that the majority of renters who had relocated to rural areas were aged between 60 and 75. In the survey, the results found that, the number of renters aged 60 or over that are living in rural areas had increased by 9% in the six months to January 2021 and the proportion of tenants in the same age bracket living in towns and cities had decreased by 7% and 4%, respectively. Tenants that fell in the second category - 35- to 60-year-olds - were also relocating to the countryside, with the number of tenants in this age group living in rural areas increasing by 5%. However, there was also a 3% increase of tenants in this demographic living in towns.

On the younger end of the market, the complete opposite seemed to be happening throughout the same period. According to the survey, the number of 18–35-year-olds living in rural areas had decreased by 2% and the number of tenants in this cohort living in towns has increased by 5%. However, the number of younger people seemed to be turning their backs on cities like their older counterparts - according to the survey by the DPS, the number of 18- to 35-year-olds decreased by 4%.

There was also a disparity between the types of properties that different age groups are going for. In the survey, younger tenants tend to favour flats whereas those aged 35 or older, favoured detached or semi-detached properties. Overall, semi-detached properties were preferred amongst tenants with all age groups - there was an increase of tenants moving into semi-detached properties in each age group. When moving, the majority of respondents said that they were looking for some form of outdoor space in their new home and 29% said that they were moving because of the pandemic.

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS said: “The lifting of Government restrictions on house moves following the first 2020 lockdown led to significant shifts across renting demographics as respondents reassessed their needs during the second half of the year.

“There seems to be a much stronger demand among younger tenants for properties in towns rather than cities and rural locations, which we believe was partly provoked by more widespread working-from-home policies.

“On top of this, older respondents seem to be increasingly interested in rural locations, perhaps as a result of lockdown restrictions causing greater disruption to urban life, including the temporary or permanent closure of many services and venues.”

It’s clear that the events of the last 12 months have really caused people to re-evaluate their living situations. That being said, it’s still apparent that there are vast differences between what each generation requires from their rental properties.

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Anna Bibby, 13 April 2021