debate around "Generation Rent" continues to ramp up. My recent blog (29
May) on the private rented sector seems to have met with some approval; I got
several approbatory Tweets and regular readers will have already seen the
comment posted by the eminent Kevin Leigh of No 5 Chambers (so big sigh of
Last week, alongside some rather scary statistics on what they call "rental-spend", Rightmove published a report that said that those "happy to rent" are on the increase; although most remain what is termed "trapped renters" (56%), that is, those who would like to buy but cannot afford to (incidentally you can see a whole new array of quasi-technical terms growing up around this debate. Just what are we like? It's depressing, to say the least).
On Sunday, even the Observer got in on the act with a
screaming headline "Renting to be 'way of life' for young families" with the
findings thrown up by the report issued by Shelter and the Resolution
Foundation which shows that, in future, property rental won't just be
restricted to our callow yoof. It's OK to rent when you're barely out of
college (and you barely wash) goes the argument, but it is tantamount to
Armageddon that folk with children should be "forced" to rent rather than buy.
Hmm. It's the UK "my home is my castle" mindset all over again. I'm all for people having choices wherever possible of course (always and forever) but I have to say that I don't see what is too terribly dreadful about people renting during their child rearing years, so long as it suits their lifestyle, and suits their financial circumstances. I could see distinct advantages in fact. Particularly if it keeps people from taking on ill-advised mortgages, that they just cannot afford, at the wrong time of their lives.
once build-to-let takes off (btw I am now convinced it is a matter of when, not
if, partly through the renewed confidence we have in the UKR venture, but also
because of the huge opportunity that Delancey will have at the Olympics park)
then you could see the market segmenting into building product, on certain
developments, designed solely with this demographic in view.
And would that be so bad? Take it from me, when you are the new mum of a new baby your quality of life immediately plummets, particularly if you are used to being a professional woman, with all that that entails. Hopefully this is more than compensated for by the pheromones of motherhood (just sniff your beautiful baby's head!) but, leaving aside that considerable reward, you don't sleep, you can't go out (or not without a military-style operation), you can completely forget about going into a restaurant for an ordinary meal, the cinema is well-risky, and so forth.
stairs are a bit of a no-no with the pram. You can barely get through the
day, breast feeding takes forever, and even getting the shopping in presents
huge logistical problems, unless you're one of those über-competent types
(needless to say I wasn't). And... well, you run the risk of being rather
lonely. The potential for loneliness of the new mother is a grim prospect
and can endure well into your children becoming toddlers, pre-schoolers and
No, I can see there being distinct advantages in living in developments of decent rental stock with other young families around you; and not just in terms of amenities for the kids, and other mums to connect with, but - and this is crucial - other kids for your kids to play with, in a safe environment. Club Mark Warner runs a fabulous business marketing "upmarket" holidays in what are, essentially, fairly plain resorts. Their entire business shtick is that there is everything there for the kids. What they are selling to families with children is, purely and simply, other families with children. If your kids are happy running around in a pack with other kids, you can have a holiday.
Why wouldn't an enlightened consumer-focused developer build a rental scheme for families with children? And why wouldn't people who want a life, rather than a mortgage, choose to live in them? There is a very real market there.