The rental market is changing, with families likely to become the most common type of household in this sector. Until relatively recently, single professionals working away from home or students were the dominant demographic, either living alone or in shared accommodation. But more landlords are now letting to parents with children than any other household type with 48 per cent of recent rentals being to families, according to the National Landlords Association.
In the last four years, the market has begun to show signs of moving from a position where young singles are the largest group, currently with 54 per cent of the market. At present, this group is followed by young couples and then families with children.
According to government figures for England, 37 per cent of families now live in privately-rented accommodation, compared with 30 per cent 10 years ago – an increase of 912,000 families in a decade.
Families have many reasons to opt to rent rather than to buy. Key deciding factors include living in the right catchment area for better schools or near the doctors’ surgery; living in a better neighbourhood; or being able to live in a larger house than that which they could afford to buy.
NLA chief executive Richard Lambert said that there was a real contrast between families who rent now, with many seeing their accommodation as their home, with those in previous years when renting was seen as a stop-gap before buying. He added that renting in the 21st century offers a flexible option for most of the 11 million private renters.
When investing in buy-to-let houses, landlords will now need to consider the different needs of families with children in contrast with single people sharing a house. For example, a shared house full of singletons is likely to have more bedrooms and fewer communal spaces. A family home will need more shared space such as a lounge, dining room, kitchen, possibly two bathrooms and a garden. The type of location may differ too; families may want to be near schools and on quieter roads with good parking or with a driveway.
Single professionals may prefer to be nearer public transport links and close to good restaurants or pubs, so that they can enjoy a social life. Location, as ever, is the prime factor when looking into property investments.