Generation Rent is here to stay, and you’d better get used to it…
Takeaways. Sandwiches. Lottery tickets. In case anyone missed the news, these are the latest things millennials are supposed to give up if we ever want to buy a house. Just add them to the list right after avocado toast, coffee, and having any semblance of a life whatsoever.
That’s according to the latest hot take on why no one under 40 owns property anymore, this time coming to you care of estate agents Strutt & Parker, who boldly asserted last week that young people could get a foot on the property ladder in just five years, if only they’d stop wasting their cash on chips, gambling on the lotto and buying sandwiches instead of bringing a lunchbox to the office. Strutt &Parker are based in Mayfair, by the way, where the average house price is currently hovering around £3,088,207. But yeah, it’s my £3 meal deal that’s the problem.
The now-notorious property firm also singled out foreign breaks, mobile phone upgrades and Friday night drinks as things we all need to forgo for the next half decade in order to save £64,560 of the average £94,500 needed for a deposit in London. Never mind that by their calculations, millennials are spending an average of £115 on a night out (£115 on one night! Last week I spent £22 in Wetherspoons and felt guilty for days).
Never mind that whoever does PR for Strutt & Parker demonstrated that they’d well and truly lost touch with reality when they casually suggested that we make up the £30,000 shortfall by “borrowing from parents or relatives”, as though we all know someone who’d be willing to give us more than the national average salary if we only ask them nicely. Never mind that property prices typically increase year-on-year while wages hold stagnate, meaning that at the end of five years of saving we’ll most likely still be slightly short of the full amount needed, leaving us perpetually playing catch-up.
(It won’t be nearly this cute though)
No, never mind any of that, because what Strutt & Parker and every other real estate mogul who’s voiced their opinion on the subject this year have really got wrong is that enabling a handful more millennials to buy doesn’t solve the problem. Our parents’ generation really needs to gets over both its guilt (because let’s face it, that’s where all this is really coming from) and its very British obsession with property as a status symbol, because none of it matters anymore – we’re past the point where buying a home is a realistic or even desirable goal for most young people. We’ve simply given up.
Generation Rent is here to stay, so if you really want to help us, boomers, hold your hot takes on how to get a mortgage and let’s start talking about what might really improve our lives. The ban on letting agency fees was a great start, but how about taking it a step further and finally introducing rent caps? That ought to put an end to the practice of landlords hiking the rent every year, just because they can. And while we’re having this conversation, I should point out that it’s not just more spare change in our pockets we millennials crave, it’s security.
We need more tenancy agreements with a minimum term of five years, rather than one. We need more landlords willing to let us put up pictures, repaint our bedroom walls and buy a pet if we want. We need our house to feel like a home – maybe even one we could settle down in, grow old in, even raise little tenants of our own in, because let me tell you, right now I’m sick to the back teeth of having to pack up all my possessions and move every 12 months, and sooner or later, I’m going to snap.
This is the conversation we need to be having, rather than the boring lectures which frankly, aren’t getting us anywhere. We can create a fairer society for everyone if we’re willing to make peace with the past and start talking about the present. I’m ready when you are.