It’s been more than 25 years since I rented a home. And while it wasn’t great living with falling-to-pieces sofas and dodgy decor, I do miss the lack of responsibility. If you own a house, you have to worry about – and pay – for maintenance.
But I bet many of those who have no choice but to rent would put up with that in exchange for their own home. While it used to be the young who rented private sector homes, that’s changed. The BBC says that forty-somethings are now twice as likely to be renting their home from a private landlord as 10 years ago. And there has been a significant rise in the number of 45 to 50 year olds renting in the private sector thanks often to relationship break ups.
I know of a lady – probably in her late 60s – who is renting privately after years of being in her own home after her husband left her. She couldn’t pay the mortgage on her own so now rents, but the lack of security – her landlord could sell up any time – worries her. And the rent takes most of her pension. I know of another couple (both working) who rented a home from a private landlord for years and brought their kids up there only for the owner suddenly to decide to sell up. Now they are living in a couple of rooms in a house: a bit like students. Fortunately the kids are grown up otherwise it would be a nightmare.
The problem with renting is that it is money down the drain. And it’s a lot of money to flush away: more than £1,500 a month in London says the BBC or about a third of that in the North East. And while house prices are high (but falling, apparently) mortgages are still cheap. A first time buyer with a 5% deposit can get a five year fixed rate from the Post Office at 3.88%. Using the mortgage calculator at money saving expert here, I worked out that a £200,000 homeloan at that rate would cost just over £1,000 a month. Get a bigger deposit and you’ll get a better deal: 2.04% for a five year fixed rate deal from First Direct.
There are schemes to help first time buyers (and first time buyers don’t have to be young) – you can read about them here . And there's Jane’s blog on Lisas here. While I might envy the freedom of renters, I wouldn’t swap the security of my own home for that.