Living rooms in decline: Property news update

Plus, equity divide, homelessness calls rise, and a velodrome conversion

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The Independent Online

One in six shared homes now has no living room, compared to one in 10 three years ago.

The cities where sharers are least likely to have living rooms are Glasgow and Liverpool, followed by Aberdeen. The survey of more than 10,000 people by SpareRoom.co.uk also reveals that 17 per cent of Londoners share bedrooms.

Its research shows that some tenants choose to use the living room as an extra bedroom to keep rent down, although a third of sharers say they share for social reasons as well as financial.

"The demise of the living room is symptomatic of the private rented sector struggling to cope with intense demand," said Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk. "And it’s not simply a case of landlords chasing higher yields. Many flat and house sharers tell us they’d compromise on a living room out of choice, if it meant paying less to keep a roof over their heads."

Property divide

A new report underlines how much London's property wealth has powered away from the rest of the country and that buying in London could soon only be possible if homehunters' parents already own property there.

The figures from the National Housing Federation show that while the average amount of equity in homes fell sharply across the North and Midlands between 2006 and 2012, London property owners enjoyed an increase in equity. This meant that the equity gap between the North East and London increased from £100,000 to £131,000 in that period.

"London’s housing market is rocketing out of control, surging away from the rest of the country," said David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation. "In the 1970s and 1980s you could move wherever you wanted to in the country, from the south to the north or vice versa.

"Not everyone wants to live in London but with many industries focused in the capital many people feel its pull. Yet London’s housing market is so out of kilter with the rest of the country that it could prove to be the buffer that stops future generations moving to and working in our capital city. This is a detriment both to the city and to young people themselves.

Surge in calls to Shelter's homelessness helpline

Housing charity Shelter says that over the last year its helpline advisers spoke to just over 51,000 callers who were close to homelessness, a jump of 28 per cent compared to 2012. Overall, calls to the helpline - part funded by Marks & Spencer - rose to a record high of 174,000.

Nearly half of all equity release sales fund home improvements

Research from LV= shows the main reason for unlocking money from property is to fund home improvements.

Around 48 per cent of its customers say that the need to renovate is the reason they have taken out a loan. One in seven used the money to top up their retirement income, with nine per cent clearing their mortgage and other debts and loans.

Velodrome turned into housing

A derelict site in Leicester which was originally the location of the national velodrome has been turned into new housing development.

The £4.8 million scheme on Saffron Lane built by Westleigh has seen disused land transformed into 45 new affordable homes. Five of the properties have also been designed specifically for wheelchair users.

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