8 things we know about ‘generation rent'

Renting is the norm for millions of Brits from all walks of life. But what’s it like to rent in the UK today?

By Sarah Lewis

As the government brings in a raft of measures to make renting fairer in 2019, we questioned British renters about how they feel about their rental home, how much it costs them and if they know their renting rights 1.

Here's what we found out about 'generation rent'...

  1. A lot of people rent
    The number of households in the private rented sector in the UK grew from 2.8 million in 2007 to 4.5 million in 2017 2. Our survey shows that today, 28% of Brits rent, either privately, from a housing association or from the council.

    If we include the 5% who live with a friend or family member and pay some rent to them, a third of people rent.

    Will renting continue to rise? Around 3 in 8 people told us they think renting will become the most common type of housing for future generations.
  2. Renters spend more on housing
    A quarter of renters are spending more than half of their household income on rent and a cash-strapped 1 in 20 renters spend 80% or more of their income on it.

    Homeowners have more disposable cash. Fewer than 1 in 10 told us they spend 50% of their household income on mortgage repayments.
  3. They simply can't afford to buy
    With the average property costing £226,798 (and £463,283 in London) 3, it's no surprise that 62% of people told us they were renting because they can't afford to save for a house at the moment. Only 1 in 8 are renting in order to save for a property.

    This doesn't apply to everyone: 1 in 10 renters told us they rent because they don't want the responsibility of owning a property, 5% prefer to rent and 4% of people renting already own a property elsewhere.

    Worryingly, almost half (45%) of people currently renting expect to rent into retirement.
  4. They move around. A lot
    Our survey found that 40% of renters had moved at least once in the last 3 years.

    This is perhaps why a quarter of people questioned said their rental property did not feel like a real home. A nomadic 3% of British renters have moved 5 times in as many years!
  5. Not everyone feels positive about renting
    Although 36% of renters we surveyed told us they feel secure in their rental home, more than a quarter of the people we gaged worry about renting into retirement and 29% worry their landlord will increase the rent.

    Almost a half (46%) of people renting said the only way they will ever own a property is if they inherit one or the money to buy one.
  6. There's still (a bit of) a stigma
    Half of renters say they feel there is a stigma attached – for example, that renters are "throwing money away" or are in some way less successful than homeowners. On the other hand, 45% of renters disagree there's a stigma. The remaining 5% have no opinion either way.
  7. Only half of renters know their rights
    A host of changes to help renters have been introduced this year under the Tenant Fees Act, giving renters protection from excessive deposits and unfair letting fees.

    But only 50% of renters were aware the law had changed in their favour.
  8. Some renters are at risk
    Fewer than two-thirds of renters have home contents insurance – leaving their belongings at risk of theft or damage – and just 39% have life insurance.

    Around a third (34%) of renters without life insurance fear it's too expensive and 13% believe they don't need it as they don't have a mortgage. This isn't true – families who rent can often benefit from life insurance just as much as homeowners, sometimes more.