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Why flat sharing into your 30s and 40s is making more and more sense

As Matt Hutchinson, of flat share websiteSpareRoom.co.uk, alluded to in his guest speaking slot at Platinum Property Partner’s National Workshop last month, perceptions are starting to change.

“I think we’re seeing a real shift in the way people talk and feel about flat sharing now,” said Matt. “It’s now seen as something that you might want to do, something that might have some benefits and maybe something that, even if what you want to do ultimately is own a property, works well for you in the meantime.”

This more positive attitude has been reflected recently in media publications such as Grazia and The Evening Standard, as well as within a popular article on the BBC website, where the question is asked: ‘Why are forty-somethings in shared accommodation still seen as unusual when their numbers are rising so dramatically?’

The numbers of new people sharing has risen by 92% over the past five years, from 396,262 in 2010 to 760,574 in 2015, according to figures from SpareRoom.co.uk. The increase in the popularity of shared accommodation in recent years has come about due to a number of factors.

Firstly, with demand for accommodation in large cities such as London and Manchester far outstripping the supply, many turn to house or flat sharing as an alternative to the expensive option of renting alone. The benefit of this system is that all the occupants of the house, or flat, pay less to live in a better quality of accommodation.

In turn, this makes saving for a deposit much less of a struggle as less of their monthly income is spent on rent.

The flexibility of shared accommodation is another major selling point. For example, those wanting to be geographically mobile in terms of occupation are not tied down to their own property.

Also, the social benefits of sharing accommodation are obvious. Even the founder of SpareRoom.co.uk, Rupert Hunt, recently put an advert out for potential housemates, believing that the benefits and social aspects of sharing far outweigh living alone.

However, new Government changes in legislation designed to stimulate the housing market and get more people on the property ladder could mean that tenants to lose out. Some landlords may be forced to increase rental prices to compensate for the upcoming changes to Stamp Duty and mortgage interest tax relief being enforced – and many might even have to consider selling.

Matt points out that, of the 1,000 landlords polled: “One in three said the reason their rents would go up was down to Government changes”.

Overall, the benefits of shared accommodation for professionals, young and old, are now beginning to be realised in the media. It’s now being increasingly seen as a clever life choice, rather than a failure to get on the property ladder.

The new changes in Government legislation could, however, have a detrimental effect on the affordability of shared accommodation, for both the tenants and the landlords.

As Matt concluded: “Legislation designed to help could well be doing the opposite.”

The rental market for more mature tenants is not going to diminish despite the Government’s best efforts. Renting is becoming more of a lifestyle choice than a necessity.

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