How would you describe the average renter in Chelmsford?
Firmly in the millennial age bracket of 22 to 37?
Priced out of the Chelmsford property market by rising values over the past 10 years?
Working in London and taking advantage of Chelmsford’s great transport links?
In the main, we’d say you were right.
But the face of the average Chelmsford renter and, in fact, the average renter in the UK is changing.
Let us explain…
Renters are getting older
Okay, so we know everyone has a birthday every year so the stats could be slightly skewed.
But in the past 12 months alone, 52.9% of tenants in Chelmsford have fallen into 30-59 age bracket, with 23.1% of those aged between 40 and 59.
That’s 23.1% of all Chelmsford renters who fall into the Generation X category – a generation supposedly the last to really benefit from the UK housing boom.
To back up the local figures, research conducted for the BBC in 2018 showed that people in their 40s are now twice as likely to be renting as they were a decade ago, while Department of Work & Pensions data shows the number of renters aged 35-54 has doubled since 2006-07.
So, why are so many of this generation renting?
In part, of course, because of property prices, which, as many millennials have found, have simply made getting on the housing ladder too much of a stretch.
But also because many of the 45 to 50-year-old bracket, according to the BBC, have found their personal situations dictated to by death, divorce or debt.
What tenants want is changing, too
Gone are the days when tenants would sign on the dotted line for a property so long as it was clean, had a roof, a front door and a heating system.
Renters now are more demanding and why shouldn’t they be?
After all, rents across the UK are increasing, although in Chelmsford we’ve seen average rents remain largely the same over the past 12 months.
So, what are the main things modern renters look for and what should landlords be doing to make their properties stand out from the competition?
Tenants want to be connected
We all place huge reliance on smart phones in particular.
If you’ve ever misplaced your phone, you’ll know it’s like losing your right (or left) arm – even if you’d never admit that reliance in public.
We all need to stay connected now more than ever before, both for business or work and to keep our personal lives ticking along.
So, it should come as no surprise that renters in 2019 place super-fast broadband as the number one factor when it comes to rental properties, according to research by law firm CMS.
All of which means, if you’re a landlord not offering WiFi as part of your rental price, you should be.
They’re also environmentally aware
From reducing their carbon footprint to helping to reduce plastic waste, renters are certainly eco-conscious these days – and landlords should be, too.
As well as helping them stay connected, tenants want their rental properties to do their bit for the environment.
So, that means energy-saving lightbulbs all round, glass kitchen storage rather than plastic and energy efficient appliances.
But landlords could even go further than that.
We all know how much coffee culture means to the 18-29 age bracket, who form 44.1% of all tenants in Chelmsford.
Many of these young professionals will be catching early trains from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street, too, so a coffee is very much the order of the day from Monday to Friday.
But disposable paper coffee cups are a big no-no, so landlords wanting to make the right environmental impression should consider throwing in a reusable coffee cup with every tenancy.
Everything is on subscription now
When was the last time you bought a new car outright?
If you’re one of the 1.6million people in the UK who lease their car, you probably can’t remember.
And car leasing is just one of the many ‘subscription’ deals modern renters take on.
They subscribe to music, TV, clothing, make-up, food… literally anything you can think of can turn up in a subscription box or via a digital download.
So, landlords should consider offering, for example, a Netflix subscription included in a tenant’s monthly rent.
Or, perhaps, an Apple Music or Spotify music subscription along with a voice-activated virtual assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant.
In the main, these kinds of services are reasonably cheap, costing around £10 per month, but make a huge difference to the lives of modern renters, who would welcome them with open arms.
We’re in a subscription society
What comes to mind when you think of subscriptions?
Services like Apple Music, Spotify and Netflix probably, but you can actually subscribe to almost anything these days – from socks and toothpaste to shaving foam, blades and make-up – and many renters do exactly that.
So, why not offer them a Netflix subscription as part of their rent, or even a music subscription service if your property comes with a voice-activated virtual assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant.
You could even be more creative with your subscription offering to tempt your tenants into their tenancy, perhaps offering a six-month chocolate subscription box included in their rent, for example.
Renters in 2019 love their pets
Okay, so we know this one is, and always will be, a polarising subject for landlords.
But there are more renters than ever wanting tenancies that allow pets and landlords who refuse them could be missing out on potentially great tenants.
Research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association in 2018 revealed that 45% of UK households had a pet.
You can be sure there are plenty of renters among them, too, with 14% of tenants placing a pet-friendly property at the top of the rental wish list, according to data from finance company Landbay earlier this year.
While many landlords steadfastly refuse pets in their rental properties, considering them with conditions, or agreeing an increased deposit to cover any pet-related damage, can often mean finding good tenants who stay for the long term.
If you’re a landlord or tenant, chat to one of our lettings specialists at Martin & Co Chelmsford, who will be happy to help you with your rental property or property management needs.