By Oliver Pym, Head of Lettings at Lifestory Group.
When I moved out of home, my Grandad, born in 1919, always told me “don’t rent - you’re paying someone else's mortgage”. Thankfully I avoided the advice from the chap whose generation benefited from lower property prices and instead enjoyed my twenties - probably to his dismay!
I lived in an area where I could easily commute to work, lived close to a good pub and had a decent social life whilst all the time paying my Landlord to look after my home, insure the building and fix anything that went wrong. Once my rent left my bank account I was worry free on that front , most of my peers did exactly the same.
A ‘millennials’ lifestyle has been much derided as smashed avocado brunches and cheap holidays to Ibiza but maybe we have influenced the older generation more than they would like to admit. Maybe - just maybe - we were onto something.
With that sentiment in mind, demand for rental within the later living sector is rising significantly, and in the summer of 2020 Lifestory evaluated our product and decided to introduce the option to rent at all of our Pegasus and Renaissance communities. The uptake has been very encouraging and ultimately indicative of where the broader sector is going, with the independent living model taking on a new narrative in reflection of that independence; the choices for our customers’ next chapter are endless.
Moreover, it’s crucial to understand that the demographic in question looks to our homes as a means to be integrated in a community that suits their current needs, in acknowledgment of necessary flexibility in years to come as time moves on and with it, circumstances change. Whilst the sale of the family house can be time-consuming, we can accommodate a tenant in a Lifestory home that they love, that fits them, within four weeks. This gives them the luxury of time as to what to do with their assets. In the essence of flexibility and modern living, the rental option gives the choice to free up capital for our customers who wish to give their family their future inheritance now, enabling the benefit to be felt and enjoyed sooner by children and grandchildren, rather than worrying about the minefield of inheritance tax. Again, as traditions modernise and circumstances become increasingly individualistic, the need for a wider array of choices has never been felt more than now.
By renting, our customers are able to get their social lives back and not worry about baggage like the garden, maintaining their outsized houses or its security. They can lock up and leave their homes to go on lovely holidays (one tenant I know is going on 6 cruises a year!) or visit their friends and family, safe in the knowledge that as a tenant, if anything happens we’re there to resolve it. That they’ll come home and the heating will be working and the washing machine serviced.
Just like me in my twenties, I believe the way we pay for our housing as individuals should suit our needs and requirements to the current stage in our lives. We all aspire to be on the ‘property ladder’ at one time or another and that is liberating at the time, but there comes a time when that responsibility becomes a shackle that is just as liberating to dispense with.
My final point is maybe I was lucky in my twenties that I had a responsible landlord who cared about their tenants and wanted them to receive value for money. My friends certainly had some stories to tell! With an increase within the country’s rental portfolio of institutional PRS and BTR my hope is that this will be the norm. Certainly at Lifestory this is the case - it’s so important to us that our tenants sit back, confident as I am that they made the right choice.