Generation Rent: A Brief Study

generation rent

Private renting is on the rise.

The modern millennial, captured as Generation Rent, is laying down roots with their latest habit: feeling at home in private rentals. This young demographic is discovering that home can be much more than just a house with personal touches.

The label signals a new kind of ownership for the next generation of property-buyers. Ownership is loose here. Generation Rent own without ever buying, be it a number of subscriptions to fashion, men’s grooming, television, music, and beyond. The common term for this is a “sharing economy”, appearing in response to the ever-changing, dynamic relationship between customer and service.

This new customer is shaping the landscape of the property market across the UK. With interest in rentals reaching new heights, this will motivate the private rental sector. Millennials will test the quality of private rentals through longer tenure, and the market, reportedly, will be shaped to their families and those lifestyles included.

“Generation Rent”, as a watchword for the times, resists finding any one definition online, instead it has become a description against the habits of a generation responding to a tough economy where appetites for property ownership are quickly disappointed. The response to housing affordability has caused a sort of chaos that is now being managed through new Help-To-Buy initiatives and other alternatives to traditional housing. Rented accommodation offers up millennials a chance to feel at home without the heavy loans or sense of commitment.

Who is Generation Rent?
Not only a label of heated public dispute, Generation Rent belongs to a new mindset that property ownership can be freed up along with just about everything else.

The near-glam of young adult lifestyles, prone to using income disposably, sees most material luxuries owned, perhaps more appropriately borrowed, against a familiar financial model of renting. It slips under different disguises, most often popularised through a ‘subscription’ riff on servicing customer appetites.

Generation Rent, as a cohort of aspirational home-buyers, will occupy into the near future private rentals as an alternative to the costlier properties on the housing ladder. It is an important, if central, issue that shapes current discussion.

Yet, the collective experiences of private renters are not limited to any single generation. A search for practical truths about renters should instead open up to different moments along the life journey of Britons moving up, or across, the property market.

Those between 35-45 years of age have lived through similar pains in renting; the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence pulled the focus wider in their study, “beyond generation rent”. This active group of renters is still very much relevant, despite the supposed “evidence gap about the view and perspectives and voices of older renters that we don’t often hear and research”. Essentially, the ecosystem of renters seeking to connect with property is more nuanced than merely those experiences we hear most often in the news. Yet, most experiences feel similar and are cases of frustrated affordability.

How might the market satisfy active renters?

It is a question on bated breath.

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