Wednesday, December 21, 2022

‘I’ve spent £100,000 on rent and may never own anything’: That’s what it’s like to be a tenant these days

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The high rental prices mean that many cannot save enough to make a down payment to own a property

A question. How much money did me and my fiancee spend on rent? Answer: almost £100,000. That’s £1,389 a month and around £46 a day over our six-year rental period.

And have we had that experience as owners of a one-bedroom apartment somewhere – anywhere – within an hour’s drive of our work? No, don’t be silly.

I’m 29 – the age my parents were already in their second home – my father paid just £25,000 for a brand new flat in Eastbourne while my mum had a £34,000 semi detached house. I was hoping a price crash would help me buy it but oh no.

Just as prices are beginning to fall, mortgage rates have skyrocketed – with landlords passing on their increased costs to tenants – and, just as a bonus, homebuyer assistance has just been scrapped.

We rent out a lot more now than when my parents were young.

Almost one in five homes in Britain is now rented, and across England rents have risen by 30 per cent in five years – from £1,056 to £1,354.

Despite rising rents, demand is exploding, market values ​​are rising – and rents are horrendous.

There are a number of reasons why young people cannot own their own property, but of course the main reason is affordability.

A lost story of our rental history. My partner Adam and I’s first home – I use the word loosely as you can’t make any adjustments without a hefty chunk being taken from your security deposit – was a one bedroom house in Canterbury.

We lived there for two happy years six years ago, paying £775 a month together, with my partner paying more of the bill after I went back to university to study.

We then moved to Big Smoke and rented a tiny one bedroom flat on a housing estate in Tooting for £1,350 a month.

Everything you can think of that could go wrong in a property went catastrophically wrong.

The fridge freezer broke, the dishwasher didn’t work, the wires above the electric shower sparkled when washing, and the bathroom fan wouldn’t turn off when you turned off the lights leaving a constant buzzing noise in your brain.

Every time I called the landlord, he said, “You can’t call me with every problem, Grace. Why don’t you sort some yourself?”

We couldn’t wait to leave this apartment, but when our 18-month break clause finally came, we didn’t get very far. In fact we moved on to the same property, just a 60 second walk up the road, to a wonderful twin room, this time costing £1,550.

This apartment couldn’t be more different than the previous one – it was light, airy and homey. Neighbors were great and all appliances – shock, horror – worked.

Then, without warning, we were kicked out after almost two and a half years. It was a stark reminder that we were occupants of someone else’s house – this was not our own space.

To be fair, the landlord had kindly agreed to host a family of Ukrainian refugees who, of course, deserved the space far more than we did. That’s out of the question.

But it gave us about a month in July to find a new property. The market was crazy – although not as crazy as it is now – with a lack of supply that drove prices up exponentially.

We ended up in a two bedroom townhouse, again in Tooting Bec – this time five minutes from the property.

However, we are now paying £1,800 a month. This might not come as a shock to other Londoners, but to people from other parts of the country it seems like a staggering amount.

Our rental journey continues but I think everyone can agree that £91,950 would be a handsome deposit. Even in London this would result in a mortgage, but instead the money was used to line landlords’ pockets.

That doesn’t even cover the three years of rent at the university – although part of that was covered by scholarships.

The sum made me a little nauseous when I added it all up, I won’t lie, and my fiancee’s emphatic response to the numbers shouldn’t be published in a family newspaper.

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