More people in the UK want the flexibility of renting a home

Many people in Britain not looking to buy a property simply don’t want the financial commitment that comes with owning a home, new research has found.

Overall, of the estimated 17 million renters in the UK, some 70% or 12 million adults, have no plans to purchase a property, according to the study from landlord insurer Direct Line for Business.

It suggests that Britain is moving towards a German housing model with a greater percentage of the population renting and future generations more likely to live in properties owned by other people.

The analysis says that the average price paid by first time buyers in 2017 was £207,693, more than 50% higher than five years previously when the same property cost on average £138,663, an increase of nearly £70,000, or £1,150 every month.

While affordability is cited as a reason for people not thinking they will buy a home, some 22% of those not looking to buy said that they simply don’t want the financial commitment that comes with owning a home.

For others, the attractiveness of not owning is flexibility, with 9% wanting to be free to travel and 8% not wanting to be tied to a local area. Indeed 22% of those not planning to buy think the cost of maintaining a property is too high and would rather have a landlord deal with any issues that may arise.

Despite London’s fast growing property market, which has seen prices rise by more than £12,000 in the past year, the capital is the region people expect to spend the shortest time renting before buying a home. The average Londoner expects to spend under 12 years renting compared to the UK average of 15 years and two months.

On a regional basis, Scotland currently has the highest proportion of people renting at 43% while the West Midlands has the lowest at 21%. Across the whole of the UK, London has the highest number of renters, with its 2.7 million tenants accounting for 16% of all British renters.

‘The UK housing market continues to change and we are seeing a major attitudinal shift when it comes to renting. While price is a factor, many people are increasingly comfortable with the flexibility afforded by renting a property rather than jumping into home ownership,’ said Christina Dimitrov, business manager at Direct Line for Business.

‘In line with the greater demand for rental properties, the Government has introduced tougher controls and regulation. Recent legislative changes mean landlords have stringent guidelines to adhere to in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of their tenants. It is important that landlords ensure all of their properties are adequately insured to minimise distress to them and their tenants should something go wrong,’ she added.