The capital is home to the highest proportion of Generation Rent in the country, but surprisingly most Londoners spend less time as a tenant than the national average.

A sixth of all the UK’s renters live in London, which is a total of 2.7 million tenants. With huge numbers of young professionals seeking out the capital’s strong job market, as well as the sky-high house prices making getting onto the property ladder difficult if not impossible for many, it is no surprise that renting is a popular choice in London.

However, research from Direct Line has found that while across the UK most private rented sector (PRS) tenants can expect to rent for an average of 15 years and two months, in London that figure falls to just under 12 years.

Avoiding commitment of owning a home

The study does not look at why this might be, but it could be down to a number of factors. Other research has shown that an increasing number of young professionals are moving out of the city or to cheaper areas of the country such as the north, which could be where renters are migrating to after their 12 years in London. It could also be that, due to the high cost of renting in terms of wages, more people in the capital who have family nearby tend to stay at home for longer, renting for shorter periods before buying a home.

As a whole, attitudes towards renting appear to be changing, according to Direct Line’s study. There are now almost 17 million people renting their homes in the UK, and around a fifth of these say they do so out of choice because they don’t want the financial commitment of owning a home.

Renting is the more flexible option for around 9% of the respondents to the research who said that it leaves them free to travel, while 8% chose not to buy because they didn’t want to be tied to one area. A further 22% said the cost of maintaining their own home would be too high, with most tenants having everything from general maintenance to major boiler repairs and other works being covered by their landlords.

Landlords need to keep up

Commenting on the results, Christina Dimitrov, business manager at Direct Line for Business, believes we are seeing a major attitudinal shift when it comes to renting.

“While price is a factor, many people are increasingly comfortable with the flexibility afforded by renting a property rather than jumping into homeownership.”

“In line with the greater demand for rental properties, the government has introduced tougher controls and regulation. Recent legislative changes mean landlords have stringent guidelines to adhere to in order to ensure the health and well-being of their tenants. It is important that landlords ensure all of their properties are adequately insured to minimise distress to them and their tenants should something go wrong.”