The Housing Crisis that Never Was?

We read about the housing crisis everyday in the press. Shortage of homes, population growth, rising rents and house prices, first time buyers getting priced out of the market.

The consequence of this? Less home ownership, the emergence of the so-called Generation Rent (young people who have no other choice than renting their home), and more and more people forced into flatsharing.

Finding the right flatmates is not easy

But flatsharing can be hard work. Finding the right flatmates is not easy, especially when you are under pressure to find a new home by a certain time. And even if the flatmates appear nice and friendly in the beginning, living with them can quickly become a very different story. When you share a flat with somebody, you no longer just see the face people want to show to the external world, you also get an insight into their daily habits – their grumpy face in the morning, their expired cans of milk clogging the fridge, the loud music they listen to until the early hours of the morning or the unexpected strangers they bring over to their room.

It is not surprising that, for most of us, flatsharing is something we choose out of necessity, and that we don’t intend to pursue once our finances improve and we can finally afford our own, self contained home.

That’s also a reason why single professionals or older people are less likely to live in a flatshare. However, this is changing rapidly. Most of them, for money reasons. And some others because they prefer the lifestyle of sharing.

Most importantly, it is about finding the right match for you – flatmates you are compatible with. Similar age range, similar lifestyles, and similar interests will go a long way in making living together not only much easier, but literally fun and enjoyable.

What’s more, helping people find the right flatmates will not only bring more harmony to existing flatshares. It will also be a way to tempt those living by themselves to consider sharing again – or at least renting out their spare room.

Bringing more trust into flatsharing could help address the housing crisis

What is the factor which most likely prevents people from doing so? The comfort zone and the lack of trust. And, bringing more trust into flatsharing could well be a way to help address the housing crisis.

Why is that? Well, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), about 80% of owner occupier homes are, actually, under-occupied. This means that there is at least one spare bedroom in 83% of them. In the case of rented homes, the figure is 49%.

Spare rooms in the UK

Source: ONS, Spareroom, Wonego

The result? There are roughly 28 million spare rooms across the UK.

Needless to say, most of these rooms will never get rented out. They are guest rooms, part time offices, TV rooms, etc. And most people with a spare room just want it to be… spare. They don’t want to bother about having a stranger living in their house. Again, it’s about the trust, and the comfort zone.


11m spare rooms in the UK have rental potential

However, some of those 28 million rooms have rental potential. We estimate that this number is around 11m. It applies mostly to larger cities where rental demand is high, and where renting out the room could be lucrative, provided the landlord doesn’t have to worry about difficult tenants. Or it could be older couples whose children have moved out, or households where a partner just left.

And in the end, it is not even about getting these 11 million rooms to the market. If only a few owner occupiers can be convinced that, with the right flatmate, trust is no longer an issue, and their lifestyle would improve rather than worsen, it already will help alleviate demand.

Beside the positive aspect of sharing a home with a person you get on, the extra income from the spare room could help you finance trips, undertake a new hobby, or even just leave your 9 to 5 job and do what you really want to do. In a nutshell, renting out your spare room could really improve your lifestyle.

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