More PRS tenants are renting for longer

Tenants are renting for longer than ever because they no longer believe they will be able to buy a house of their own, reveals a new report from LSL Property Services.

A third (33%) of tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) have rented for six years or longer compared with 29% just one year ago, according to the survey. The survey also found that more than a fifth do not think they will ever own their own homes.

However, tenants are happier than last year, with 69% saying they are ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ - up from 64% in 2016. This may be thanks to a significant reduction in the number of complaints about fees, restrictions on DIY and maintenance issues.

Types of tenant

The survey of more than 3,200 tenants categorised them into different groups. The largest is ‘struggling savers’, making up 36% of UK renters, who have a strong desire to own their own homes and are the most sensitive about costs and fees. Other groups include ‘reconciled renters’ who tend to be older, less likely to attempt to own in the future and more interested in communal living.

The survey was conducted to better understand what the build-to-rent sector should be delivering.

David Bond, director and head of LSL PRS, argues that a negative attitude towards renting remains a key issue facing the sector and that developers should be challenging that by positioning their schemes as if they were for sale rather than for rent.

We have to start looking at renters as if they’re in their own home, not someone else’s - David Bond, LSL

“The key thing is we need to start looking at renters in a different way,” he says. “We have to start looking at them as if they’re in their own home, not living in someone else’s home with little security of tenure.”

While some people may like a short tenure, many more were looking for three or four years in homes they could make their own, he adds.

“There are opportunities for the PRS market if it offers people what they want,” he elaborates. “They want to have pets. They’d like to decorate their own [homes]. They also want to be able to contact their landlords and get maintenance when it’s needed right away.”

Being allowed to have pets tops the list of perks tenants would be happy to pay for. Previously, high-speed internet had equal appeal and LSL says the change may be due to high-speed internet increasingly becoming viewed as a standard offering. The survey found that only 3% of tenants would want to pay more for concierge services.

The survey also uncovered strong interest in communal living facilities, especially among tenants aged under 25 and over 55. More than four in 10 say they would be happy to pay for on-site gyms and communal activities such as fitness classes. Around a third of tenants say they would also be willing to pay for laundry facilities and a communal garden. Many would like to see such facilities included in the rent to ensure fair access to all.

As more BTR schemes are developed, it will become clearer whether tenants really are willing to pay more and, if so, exactly how much.

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