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16% of shared homes in the UK have no living room, according to a survey of more than 10,000 users of flat and house share site SpareRoom.co.uk. Just three years ago, only 10% of sharers lived in properties without living rooms.
In London, where demand for rooms in flat and house shares is highest there are currently 10 people searching for every room available with 19% of shared properties have no living room. It is also revealed that 17% of Londoners share bedrooms, and not all of them are couples with 5% of sharers in the capital bunking with a roommate.
Outside London, the cities where sharers are least likely to have living rooms are Glasgow and Liverpool, where 16% have no living room and Aberdeen 15%.
It’s not simply about landlords cramming as many people as possible into their properties, as SpareRoom’s research also reveals that some tenants choose to use the living room as an extra bedroom in order to keep their rent down. Even though 35% of sharers say they share for social reasons as well as financial with 69% saying they would live in a home with no living room in exchange for cheaper rent.
That could explain why the number of sharers who live in properties with four or more people has risen over the past three years from 34% in 2011 to 38% now.
Living in bigger house shares often works out cheaper per person than living with one or two others, as bills and expenses are split amongst a larger group. In London, room rents for two and three-bedroom flat and house shares are on average 14% more expensive than rooms in four to six-plus bedroom house shares. The saving is 4% for the rest of the UK.
Director of SpareRoom.co.uk Matt Hutchinson said, “this is a sign of the times. The demise of the living room is symptomatic of the private rented sector struggling to cope with intense demand, and it’s not simply a case of landlords chasing higher yields. Many flat and house sharers tell us they’d compromise on a living room out of choice, if it meant paying less to keep a roof over their heads.
Faced with rising rents, tenants are looking to save wherever they can. The only solution is to create more supply. Building new homes takes time, but there are already millions of empty bedrooms in the UK. By making better use of existing housing stock and incentivising homeowners to let rooms to lodgers we could free some of these up immediately.”
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