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Guide to renting

Considering the nation's obsession with news about interest rates, the housing market and property prices, it is easy to see why tenants and the world of renting property are often forgotten. Although fewer than 1 in 10 homes are privately rented, this figure does not include the millions of council tenants, students and residents of homes that are rented out through professional lettings agents.

With property prices so high these days, it is not surprising that many people still find themselves unable to buy, or else choose not to take that first step on the housing ladder. For others, it is a logical choice given their way of life. We have identified 6 main groups that will often be found renting property.

Council accomodation
One of the largest groups of tenants has traditionally been - and still is - those who rent their home from the local council. For many people, housing benefit is an essential part of life - they simply would not be able to afford to meet the cost of privately rented accommodation. The unemployed and those working in low paid jobs form the bulk of those people who rent from either the government or a housing association, as well as the small minority who are looking to play the system.

Professional shares
This is a large and quickly growing group who are now responsible for the lion's share of the demand amongst private landlords and professionally let properties. The three principle drivers for professional sharers renting rather than buying would see to be:

Many fresh graduates and young professionals are willing to relocate in order to follow their work or to find new work. Around 250,000 move to London each year to try to get a boost up the employment ladder. If you don't know what or where your next career step will be, renting can often be the sensible option.

Quite frankly many sharers enjoy the company and social aspects of sharing a house. They might not yet be ready to strike out on their own and get their own place, for fear of too many nights in alone. Many young professionals are city dwellers. Attracted by the busy lifestyle and close proximity of amenities, a shared house or flat in the city can be the perfect answer for their lifestyle needs.

Last, but not least, for many young sharers, there are not always many other options. A lot of people now find themselves priced out of the market in the early parts of their careers and simply can't afford to buy. Others share whilst they save, since renting with other people is usually cheaper than renting on your own.

Although it is becoming increasingly popular for parents to enter the buy-to-let market by buying a house for their university-bound child to live in, the vast majority of students live in accommodation that is rented privately or from the university. This includes the large number of foreign students that come to live in the UK each year and medical and dental students that live in special accommodation.

Corporate rental
The corporate rental market is booming, as landlords are waking up to the fact that a whopping premium can sometimes be gained from leasing your property on a short term let. Major blue chip companies are always looking to house people in temporary accommodation for the duration of a contract or project. These are people who will rent at the higher end of the market, often coming to work in the UK from abroad or relocating from elsewhere in the country.

Couples and ex couples
There are three main groups within this category:

Most young couples will usually try living together before they buy a place of their own. It can make sense since buying with your partner is such a big step. Often, if a couple are serious about buying a place together, they will live in rented accommodation while they save.

Divorcees and recently separated homeowner couples will often - probably quite sensibly - resist the temptation to immediately buy a replacement home. Choosing to rent instead is probably quite sensible, as the time after a major break up is definitely a period of change.

'Living apart together' is something of a new phenomenon amongst modern couples, that can apply to both rented and owned property. Essentially, each individual of the couple will have their own home, which may or may not be shared with other people. The couple will split their time between their two places. This allows for a greater level of financial independence from each other and is a choice currently favoured by around 16% of the population.

Like it or not, the criminal fraternity is a recognisable social group that is not averse to renting property, especially in inner city areas. As our lettings insider tells us, dodgy dealers, pimps, prostitutes and all kinds of creatures of the night can be found renting the properties of unsuspecting landlords.

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