Editor: The prime minister’s vow to “turn generation rent into generation buy” with a proposed increase in low-deposit mortgages for first-time buyers suggests a willingness to help young people on to the property ladder.
However, in order to improve young people’s access to housing, the government should be looking to give ‘generation rent’ a helping hand rather than doing away with them altogether. Many Brits aged 25 and under prefer renting over homeowning because of the greater flexibility it offers. What we need more than ‘generation buy’ is ‘generation rent better’.
However, 630,000 privately rented homes in the UK – 14% of the total – are estimated to fail safety standards, while 25% are considered ‘non-decent’, meaning technically safe but suffering from disrepair or poor heating. Addressing these deficiencies and improving access to higher-quality accommodation would be of great benefit to young renters.
Technology also offers an important avenue to improving the quality of rental homes in the UK, one that we at Skwire believe is fundamental. ‘Generation rent’ is more at home in the digital world than any previous generation, so adequate connectivity is no longer only desirable but essential, while advanced digital property management capabilities not only make for happier tenants but also relieve pressure on landlords.
Ensuring that rental offerings meet modern expectations is vital for improving young people’s access to housing. The government should take stock of the rental market and provide solutions that will benefit young people that desire the flexibility of renting in the wake of Covid-19 and beyond.
Elisabeth Kohlbach, chief executive, Skwire