Leaving aside the outrageous sums which commentators confidently state it costs parents to raise a child in the modern world, it now appears that many mums and dads are still paying, long after it might have been assumed they were free of parental responsibility.
Nearly 460,000 tenants rely on their parents to assist them with their rent, amounting to £2.3 billion, according to research carried out by Legal and General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. 9 per cent of renters need help from parents to pay their rent. How exactly is society meant to react to this? With shock and horror, remembering a time when grants paid the rent and parental support meant a food hamper?
The World has moved on. Whilst there will always be those who cannot depend on parents coughing up, perhaps because they are benefit dependent themselves or living at the margins with little excess income, there will be the others. They come from homes with 2 bathrooms; they are used to large and attractive bedrooms. Their mum and dad may have lived in accommodation of a poor standard in their university or post-university lives, but they don’t want their children to live like that.
Parents may also misunderstand the responsibilities of a landlord, believing that they are duty bound to provide new mattresses. They are not, provided the mattress is fit for purpose. Broken springs, dirty, stained and malodorous mattresses, should be replaced; relatively clean mattresses are quite adequate. Sensible landlords buy high-quality mattress protectors which are waterproof and stain resistant. £70 may seem expensive, but it will keep the mattress looking like new and save arguments with incoming tenants. (NB: Waterproof does not mean plastic sheeting, which is noisy and causes sweating!). Where parents are unhappy with standards, they may feel it is better to encourage their children to find a better accommodation which they are happy to contribute to than risk poorer, if cheaper, accommodation.
Most parents will do whatever they can to give their children a head-start, to make them as comfortable as possible. But what lesson is this giving to young people? Does this give them unreasonable aspirations? Is this one reason for ‘generation rent’? That mum and dad help them to live comfortably as students and post-graduation, and when the real World intervenes, and they establish themselves as couples and families, they look for properties with ‘wow’ factor kitchens and bathrooms (plural) and when deposits will only cover a rental property with those elements, that is what they take.
Landlords are not to blame for market forces, in this case those which dictate that caring parents want better standards than they may have enjoyed, or suffered, themselves in the past. But parents need to give their children lessons in life, so they understand that sometimes, they cannot expect to be carried until they buy their own homes – which commentators now believe could be as late as 35. We currently think of the older generation being comparatively well off. Perhaps this will not be the same for the next round of the elderly.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon