Ownership is an interesting word and it’s something I’ve been thinking about, because I’m buying a house at the moment. I feel very lucky and privileged to be in a position to do this right now. According to the House Index published by Nationwide in January 2012, the average house now costs over five times the average wage. You don’t have to be a statistical genius to figure out that means a lot of people renting.
So we come back to that word – ownership. Possession.Rights. Maybe that’s the crucial thing. Ownership gives you rights. If you own your property, you don’t have to worry about making holes in the walls or changing stuff. You can make it your home. This attitude is summed up in the words of an article I read recently:
Every day millions of Britons travel home from work, walk through someone else’s front door, and go to sleep in a house that isn’t theirs. This is literally true: 8.5 million people in England now rent, and that number is soaring. (Telegraph on-line, 3 January 2013.)
But I can’t help wondering whether it has to be this way. In many parts of Europe, particularly France, renting with long leases is the norm. And there seems to be some evidence that in the UK tenants are becoming more demanding, asking for longer tenancies and higher spec properties.
People are also realizing that you can do both – buy as an investment where you can afford to buy and rent where you want to live. So, what you can buy into by renting, is a lifestyle. Renting can be a genuine lifestyle choice. And think of all the advantages of not owning – the flip side of rights is responsibility. With renting comes freedom from the shadow of negative equity, flexibility and no maintenance costs. And if you get rid of the stigma of renting – you have a genuine alternative to owning.
We’ve got a long way to go before renting is on an equal footing with buying, but the signs are there. The fact that many people are simply priced out of buying is unacceptable and we at Rocket Lawyer UK hope that the recent Budget measures aimed at boosting home ownership will help people get on the property ladder – if that’s what they want to do. But renting has its merits too and shouldn’t be snubbed.
When the next home-owner you meet becomes a bit puffed up, you could try reminding them that all land in the UK is ultimately owned by the Crown anyway. Now, that’s something to think about and may be the subject of another blog…