Use of the term ‘generation rent’ has grown beyond all measure in recent years, but it’s not always quoted in the most positive of contexts and I can’t believe I’m alone in feeling somewhat frustrated by this.
Of course, for some there is a clear frustration which justifies the term’s use.
There’s those who would desperately like to buy their own home but simply can’t afford to either now or in the future, and those who are happy to rent but constantly face the challenge of finding quality accommodation at an affordable cost with a reasonable, non-rogue, landlord.
Perhaps in those situations its slightly derogatory use is understandable, but as an industry shouldn’t we be pulling together to demonstrate the many advantages that Generation Renters can enjoy?
The model of being born, raised, educated and employed nearby to the family home is, for many, a thing of the past.
People’s lives are much more transient in the 21st Century and it’s not unusual to now move across the country for a better job; to follow a career based on short to medium term contracts; or to simply pursue new opportunities in different surroundings.
Whilst roots aren’t firmly established in a given location, renting can provide the necessary flexibility that today’s agile workforce requires.
Renting can also offer an affordable alternative to buying for those with discerning tastes who wish to live in an area where buying may not currently be an option.
Especially for young professionals who are happy to share with likeminded individuals, the options to live in a more affluent or sought after area are opened up by renting whilst they decide on their future plans for putting down roots.
Likewise, there is also an element of ‘try before you buy’ whereby if you’re new to a town or city you can get a feel for a certain suburb before investing in a property there.
For those with families, renting in a particular area can also facilitate access to highly regarded schools if you rent within a sought after catchment area.
Whilst those in the above scenarios may find themselves renting for longer than they had initially anticipated, in spite of the associated benefits for initially doing so, it’s worth remembering that the property market continually moves through a journey of booms and busts and interest rates likewise go up and down.
The longevity of these peaks and troughs is impossible to pre-judge, but what it does mean is that there is almost always an opportunity to get on the property ladder at some point.
However, let’s not detract from the matter under discussion.
Renting is not a dirty word and being a non-homeowner is not a sign of failure.
Certainly, for a number of generations the UK has held home ownership in high regard but we shouldn’t forget that the same is not the case with many of our European neighbours where renting is often the norm.
So let’s, as an industry, pull together and make sure that even if the media uses ‘Generation Rent’ as a term of contempt, that we demonstrate the many advantages of renting a property can bring and ensure that no tenant feels bad for not being a home owner.
*David Westgate is Managing Director of Andrews Letting & Management