Rise of the middle-aged renters

By Will Leyland, 16 May 2018

The media coverage of the ‘housing crisis’ is more often than not concerned with the struggles of young first time buyers who can’t get a mortgage deposit together, rather than older people who rent.

This could be about to change with new research released this week which has revealed that the number of middle-aged renters has doubled in the last decade, meaning that demand for rental properties has been rising amongst almost all age brackets.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey, people between the age of 30 and 54 are increasingly forced to rent from private landlords for much the same reason as their younger counterparts – that is affordability.

It seems the generation just above millennials may also have missed out on the property boom of the early nineties to early 2000s, and many are stuck in the same cycle of high rents and low ability to save.

In terms of what this means for landlords, it very much shows that despite the recent media coverage of stuttering house prices there is still a huge demand for private rental property.

It’s not just the number of young and middle-aged renters which has increased, with the number of families which rent property growing by 119% over the same period.

One interesting potential drive in middle-aged renters, according to BBC research, is the “accidental renters” who were left in a financially precarious position thanks to the breakup of a relationship and a change in household income meaning that a sole income was rarely enough to cover the requirements for affordability checks.

The same research shows that a third of homeowners would not be able to afford to buy their own houses if they were listed at today’s prices, showing that incomes are not keeping pace with the increase in property prices.

For landlords who are considering increasing their portfolio but have been reticent due to coverage of tax changes and property price cooling, this should provide enough evidence to show that demand remains high and is likely to increase in coming years.

To highlight this, the research also showed that the proportion of those who are renting from private landlords increased across all measured demographics.

Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom, told the Independent: “Renting, particularly flat sharing, is often seen as a young person’s game. But that’s all changing. Despite a slowdown in house prices, owning a property is still far beyond the reach of many.

“As a result we’re seeing the rise of the lifetime renter, but also a trend of older flatmates sharing for the first time in years, or potentially for the first time ever, in their 40s and 50s.”

These trends show that those with good quality property portfolios are extremely unlikely to see a drop in demand any time soon and, in fact, could well be missing an opportunity should they decide against increasing their portfolio over the next few years, especially as prices stall in certain areas of the country.

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