Roommate Wars: It’s students vs thirtysomethings in the battle for room lets

Frustration over room lets

Frustration over room lets - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Research suggests that people older than 35 are staying in shared accommodation rather than renting alone or buying their first homes – which has risen faster than younger age groups over the past 5 years.

The logic behind it is simple: by sharing accommodation and splitting costs it’s often possible to live in a better property or in a better area than you could afford otherwise.

As the trend catches on with those over 35, the knock-on effect is that students are now in direct competition with these people, and appear to be struggling to pin down property in university towns.

Online room rental service SpareRoom have calculated that up to 22 people are competing for every one room to let, reporting that competition is at its most fierce in Oxford, where up to the end of last week 100 students had no accommodation for the start of the college term.

Similar trends are thought to be taking place this academic year at the University of Hertfordshire. “The student union has been extremely busy over the past few weeks as there hasn’t been enough accommodation to go around,” a representative from the university’s accommodation office told the Herts Advertiser today.

The SpareRoom study claims that 4/10 rooms in private shared flats and houses in the top 25 university towns are not available to students because of their costs. It’s understandable that the potentially better-off thirtysomethings, who presumably have worked for 10 years and have more money at their disposal, will be a more attractive tenant to the flighty cash-strapped student. And with those in their thirties increasingly looking to rent a room, rather than a whole flat to themselves, the competition is bound to be heating up.

Hannah Davis, area lettings director for Reeds Rains says: “A popular reason people choose to share is the social benefit as well as it being more affordable.” This would certainly be the case for students; but perhaps society forgets that the young professional might also wish to use living arrangements as a way of expanding socially.

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Quite often those in their mid-late thirties are expected to be partnered off, financially secure and have a foot on a rung of the property ladder by that age. But the shift in the property climate over the past 15 years proves that Generation Rent are older and embroiled in a constant quagmire of competitive jobs, lower salaries and higher house prices. Those that rent also face high letting costs. And many wait longer to settle down and have children too, meaning the desire is less urgent to commit to a long-term home. It’s no longer just a student “thing” to live with friends, be a serial dater or disappear off on a back-packing expedition around the Andes any longer. Generation Rent are less conservative, less traditional and less regimental in today’s society.

While students might be bearing the brunt of this tricky situation, those in their thirties can’t be blamed for dealing with the cost of living by taking sensible actions when it comes to deciding where they live.

Check back tomorrow when we’ll be publishing Reeds Rains tips on finding the right roommate.