Home ownership is losing its appeal for many people in the UK, who prefer the freedom that renting offers. Whilst it’s true that many households cannot afford to buy because high property prices mean getting a mortgage is nigh-on impossible, others are making the lifestyle choice to rent. These are some of the findings from a study by Usurv, carried out on behalf of Cover4LetProperty, landlord insurance specialists.

This research revealed that 16% of tenants are choosing to rent, despite many of them actually being in a position to buy their own property. In the survey of tenants in privately-rented accommodation, 84% said they couldn’t afford to buy, while 16% said they chose to rent. They said the financial and physical freedom of renting were their main reasons for not buying. As tenants, they do not have the worry and expense of maintaining the property. They are also not tied down with a mortgage which could restrict their movement. The survey also found that 24% of respondents aged 45 to 54 chose to rent, as opposed to 3% of 25 to 34-year-olds. They said that financial freedom was the main reason they rented. About 12% of 45 to 54-year-olds said they did not want to be tied to a mortgage. Interestingly, 88% of tenants who said they couldn’t afford to buy property actually earn more than £40,000.

These figures show the positive side to renting and shows that many people are choosing to be tenants rather than homeowners for various reasons. Home ownership is losing favour, as people prefer the fluidity and flexibility of renting and being able to move home as and when they please.

Another survey also shows that more over-60s are renting, according to the Centre for Ageing Better. These findings showed a sharp rise in older tenants, from 254,000 in 2007 up to 414,000 today. This trend is forecast to continue rising, with as many as one-third of people aged 60-plus living in rental accommodation by 2040. With an ageing population in the UK, this is a significant number of older tenants who could be a key target for buy-to-let investors. Now, it seems, would be a good time to research the specific needs of older rentals in terms of accommodation and location as potential additions to a landlord’s portfolio.

This trend has also been noted by Girlings Retirement Rentals, which is receiving more enquiries from retirees who want to downsize from the family home. They are looking for an apartment in a retirement development which is more manageable. These developments have been designed to meet the needs of older people and many have assured lifetime tenancies for peace of mind. Renting for older people means freedom from the financial expense and worry of maintaining a property. They can also use the capital from the sale of the family property to invest, spend or give away to loved ones.

It seems many different age brackets are turning to the private rental sector to meet their housing needs rather than seeing buying property as the way forward.

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