A new website called Silver Sharers says it’s chief objective is to help older home owners remain in their properties without having to move to downsize.
The website operates a weekly newsletter and the combined service makes clear its objectives when it says; “It's intended to help older people remain in their own homes by filling a spare room with someone who needs one and providing them with some form of payment (either financial or through offering home help).”
It also appears to avoid using lettings agents for the sharing or renting side of the deal by connecting prospective tenants directly with home owners.
The website includes listings of properties owned or rented by older individuals or families with a spare room.
“We are not open to agents” it says explicitly.
According to the site itself, this is how it works: “To list your property, fill in the form and we'll call you to verify your identity and help you with any questions you may have. After that, your property details are sent out to our database of prospective tenants as part of our weekly newsletter and listed on our Facebook page. Prospective tenants get in touch with us if they’re interested and, once they’ve been verified, we connect you with each other.”
Anyone listing a property pays £10 while those subscribing to the newsletter do so for free - however, the newsletter does “not accept listings from agents or other third party brokers.”
There’s been growing concern in the agency and wider property industries about the issue of downsizing, which some believe would - if it occurred more often - free larger homes for younger buyers.
Research for equity release company Key shows that 15 per cent of owners aged 55 and over - roughly 1.2m people - say they would at least consider moving if they did not have to pay stamp duty. Another 30 per cent, equivalent to almost 2.5m, say their decision on moving would be “influenced” by the scrapping of the duty.
Anxieties about the falling number of older owners moving has led some agents to call for equity release to have some form of tax or duty attached to it, just as stamp duty would have been attached to a downsize house move in many cases.
Their argument has been that a failure to move has effectively limited the housing stock of larger properties which might have been freed up through downsizing.
You can see the Silver Sharers website here.