Unfortunately for the young professionals moving to the city, they really need the streets to be paved with gold to be able to afford somewhere to live. With mortgages out of the question for first time buyers, and rents also currently outwith their budget they are being forced to go down the route of a flatshare or choose somewhere downmarket, really really downmarket.
The Guardian introduced us to 23 year old graduate Aaron Frazer, who, after moving to London to take up a job with a charity, has found himself completely priced out of the market.
After attending a “flatmate party” in which those with rooms for rent and those looking for rooms are thrown together in the hopes of finding a connection, a dejected Frazer said:
“I earn £22,000; it’s not a vast amount, but I never thought I would be completely priced out. I can’t face meeting another ‘rah’ with bouffant hair looking for someone to spend £800 a month on a room in his flat,” he says.
Equally dejected is Events executive Michael Li, 26, who, after being beaten to a number of more salubrious rooms, told the Guardian he is considering moving into a South London flat in such a state of disrepair he is convinced it was a former crack den.
“I’m not looking for somewhere palatial. I just want to live somewhere decent with people I like at a good price; the problem is that so does everybody else,” he says.
According to flatshare website Spareroom.co.uk, one of the firms responsible for the “flatmate meeting” competition for rooms is fierce.
“There is a real bottleneck in supply, especially in London,” says Matt Hutchinson, director of the firm’s base in London. “There is a complete imbalance. At one of our events in September there were eight people for every one room, although that has eased slightly to around six.”
Reports are the same across the board, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reports rents are growing at their fastest rate in years. As rents grow people are unable to afford to rent on their own, which increases demand for flat-sharing, thereby pushing up the cost of renting even a room.
Since 2007 the number of shared-home dwellers in the capital has risen by 13,690 to 635,950 since 2007, according to data from flatshare website Easyroommate.com. But this autumn, an already competitive market for rooms has become white hot.
The competition has become so severe in fact that references and deposits are no longer enough in the quest to find somewhere decent to live, now you need to knock their socks off with your personality as well as they often has multiple potential flatmates to choose from.
“Meeting the flatmates was like a job interview, where you are judged on your personality, rather than your experience or intelligence,” said Lavinia Watts who moved to London to work as a PA in the fashion industry. “You have to be happy and come across as this amazing person. I wanted to tell them: ‘I’m a normal person, I’m clean and tidy and know how to share with others’. If you don’t get a place you can’t help but wonder ‘What’s wrong with me?'”
Watts did find a place in the end but puts her success down to “pure luck”.
The things is, with no signs of things improving in the availability of 100% mortgages for first time buyers, we face the likelihood of almost an entire generation of first time buyers being forced to give up on buying. This will put pressure on rental markets across the country for many years to come. In London, the situation certainly looks likely to get a lot worst, before it gets any better.
Photo credits: Steve Cadman via Flickr