Thousands opting to flatshare rather than rent or buy

Nia Williams

August 24, 2011

According to the latest research from flatsharing website, easyroommate.co.uk, 82% of those surveyed aimed to be a homeowner in the future. However, financial issues remain the main stumbling block. Around 70% of respondents either cited they didn’t earn enough money for a big enough mortgage, or didn’t have a big enough deposit. As a result, just 27% of renters believe they will be in a position to buy a home in the next 3 years.

However, the growing cost of rent has taken its toll aspirations to rent their own properties – let alone buy. One in three flatsharers (32%) don’t foresee renting their own property in the next five years. The average flatsharer believes it will be at least four and a half years before they can afford to rent their own property.

The average number of renters living as flatmates or lodgers has increased to 2,851,000 from 2,749,000 a year ago as renters abandon living alone to save on increasing rents. At the current rate of growth, the flatsharing population will hit 3 million by April 2013, according to easyroommate.co.uk.

The cost of flatsharing is considerably cheaper than renting alone, according to easyroommate’s analysis of over 60,000 room rentals around the country. The monthly rent for a whole property stands at £705, £340 more than the average cost of a room rental. As a result, UK flatsharers are saving 48% each month on rent alone – not to mention additional savings on utilities and council tax. Across flatsharers in Great Britain, this is a collective saving of more than £8bn per year.

Demand in the flatshare market is so strong that 31% of rooms are being let within 2 weeks of being advertised on easyroommate’s website.

Jonathan Moore, director of easyroommate.co.uk commented: “The woeful level of lending to first-time buyers has been a bottleneck for buyer demand, driving thousands of frustrated first-timers into rented accommodation. This has driven up rents in the wider rental market – driving down the affordability for many renters. The flatshare market is absorbing the excess demand, providing a cheaper and more flexible alternative and allowing renters to set aside more money each month for house deposits.

“It’s not even buying a home that is the most immediate concern for thousands of renters – renting alone is becoming an equally distant goal. For many, the size of the deposit needed – not to mention the sky-high rents – is prohibitive. Cost conscious renters are opting to share properties – and split bills – to limit their monthly outgoings. As homeownership remains the ultimate goal for many renters, thousands of renters are looking to save deposits while they flatshare before buying, and avoid renting alone altogether.”

As a result of growing rents, larger rental households are becoming more common, and the average flatshare household size is growing. In the last year, the number of flatmates per flatshare has increased from 3.1 to 3.2 in August this year.

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