Generation Rent. A Positive Meme?

Issue 41

This month's column allows me to use my current favourite word, ‘meme'. I am not allowed to use this word at home as my wife says she is sick of it. Apparently, there is no meme evident in our children's lunch. They just happen to like cheese and tomato sandwiches.

There is a common meme in discussion of ‘generation rent’ which is picked up by mainstream media. This usually features a glum singleton or couple staying at Hotel Mum ‘n Dad in order to save money for the deposit on a home of their own. But this meme only tells one side of the story, ignoring as it does the tens of thousands of young professionals who are perfectly happy to rent.

There are a number of reasons for this under reported trend among young professionals. Not least is the fact that their disposable income can be spent as they see fit rather than being squirreled away for a mortgage deposit. Another advantage is the ease with which they can move around the country if work or other factors dictate.

We were recently approached by a young couple who were planning to start a family and needed a larger property. Within two weeks they had found the ideal apartment, the paperwork was concluded in an afternoon and they moved into their newly refurbished home. No mortgage headache, conveyancing, stamp duty or the dreaded chain.

This is all very well for our happy renters but let us not overlook the needs of young professionals desperate to get onto the property ladder. Amid the welter of property legislation introduced this year there is a proposal that would solve two major problems at once.

Conservative think tank Onward has proposed that landlords would not pay capital gains tax of around 28% if they sell to a tenant who has been in residence over three years. Further, it is proposed that the estimated saving of £15,000 should be split between landlord and tenant.

This gives an easy out for landlords struggling with ever more burdensome legislation and refurbishment costs while providing tenants with an attractive fillip to their home deposit savings. The Sunday Times recently reported that the scheme could be included in the Chancellors autumn budget statement.

If adopted the plan would serve the Government well by ticking boxes on their wish list. More young people would be able to access their first mortgage, more properties would pass into private ownership from the rental sector and landlords would be encouraged to offer longer tenancies. Let us hope this entirely sensible plan becomes a meme.

Having got that out of my system I look forward to writing next months column where I shall feature my current second favourite word ‘trope’. I now have thirty days to find out what it means. If that proves impossible I shall follow the advice of J.R.R Tolkien who said “Children make up imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write”.

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