14:22 PM, 14th June 2012, About 10 years ago
Shared accommodation rates have grown much faster in the more mature age groups since the credit crisis, as revealed in a census of 10,000 individuals living in shared accommodation by SpareRoom.co.uk.
The growth for over 45s in such a short space of time is startling, and the statistics below for the demographic of over 40s in HMO’s or shared AST’s reveals a picture of a growing but unexplored niche in the current UK housing market.
Over 40s in shared rented accommodation census results
59% are male, 41% female. The majority are professionals (68%) or self-employed (15%), overturning a common myth, certainly for this age group, that those in shared housing are normally students (4% of this demographic) or unemployed (7%). With professionals of both genders putting more focus on their careers, and start families later in life, it’s becoming more common to find professional singles and also couples sharing with others into their forties.
Modern life can be stressful enough, and for mid-life professionals, the prospect of coming home to an empty flat or house after a full day’s work may not be very appealing. The results of this question and the following one highlight the social aspect of sharing accommodation.
Q. Could you afford to rent on your own if you wanted to?
No = 55%
Yes = 45%
Q. What is the main reason you share?
Financial = 66%
Social = 3%
Part Social and part Financial = 24%
Other = 7%
The above responses do however clearly show an economic requirement for shared accommodation and its importance to the UK housing strategy.
It’s very common for people to be sharing with strangers, even at this stage in their lives. 64% say they rent with strangers, and another 16% with a mixture of friends and strangers. The rest only rent with people they know.
It is also interesting to note that the majority fall below the standard HMO definition of 5 sharing (only 26% said they lived in a 5-person or bigger house share). Indeed the most popular professional set-ups are for 2 or 3 to share.
60% responded to the census saying they had lived in shared accommodation for under 2 years. These may well be the tenants who have boosted the overall growth of sharing amongst this age group since 2009. With many older tenants staying in shared rented accommodation for a longer period (40% have shared for more than 3 years), there’s an incentive for the sector to offer more stable conditions for long-term renters, who don’t necessarily require the flexibility of their younger counterparts, and would appreciate more a secure tenure.
Matt Hutchinson of SpareRoom.co.uk says:
“Buying property is becoming less and less of an option for many people right now and, on top of that, the rental market is starting to become extremely competitive. As a result we’re seeing people sharing for far longer than most ever intended to. We’re also seeing a spike from people getting divorced (or coming out of long term relationships) and realising they simply can’t afford to rent on their own, let alone buy.
Sharing is seen by most people as a young person’s game but, as the figures show, that’s far from being the case now. Maybe the flatshare of the future will look less like Friends and a bit more like The Odd Couple or The Golden Girls!”
It would be fascinating to hear readers’ comments on these insights into the growth niche of older tenants who share, as I am sure you will have many different points of view and experiences. If you have older tenants, do they treat the property and other flatmates differently? Do they tend to stay longer?
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