Property news roundup: Families and older tenants becoming a larger proportion of private renters

Plus, a rise in 'ghost residents', using Open Data, and what would London have looked like without the flood barrier...

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The Independent Online

There has been a 'significant' change in the age and type of renters in England, Scotland and Wales, according to Countrywide Residential Lettings.

The number of people aged over 30 living in rented accommodation in January 2014 increased 5.8 per cent compared to January 2013 and now represents nearly 60 per cent of all tenants.

Tenants in the 41-50 age group grew more than any other over the same period, up 2.2 per cent to 16 per cent of all tenants.

There has also been a growth in the number of families living in the private rented accommodation in most regions, with London seeing the greatest year-on-year increase, followed by the South West up 5 per cent to 31 per cent and the North West up 3 per cent to 28 per cent.

Countrywide's report also shows that the UK average monthly rent in January 2014 was £859, up 0.6 per cent month-on-month and 2.9 per cent year-on-year. Over the past 12 months, Scotland has seen the largest increase up nearly 12 per cent to £639.

Nick Dunning, Group Commercial Director at Countrywide said:"The large increase in rents in Scotland over the past year could partly be due to the fact that tenant fees can no longer be charged in Scotland. The cost of carrying out the work by the letting agent is instead passed onto the landlord who subsequently covers their costs by charging higher rents."

Rise of the 'ghost resident'

Growing rent levels and a lack of affordable property are creating an 'army of ghosts' who live in sub-let rooms in rented homes and are unknown to the agent or the landlord, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC says this is a serious and growing problem: "The sheer cost of renting in some parts of the UK has driven some tenants to kip on a mate's’ spare room, or in more sinister circumstances, multiple sub-tenants inhabit a property over time. 

"We recently came across a three-bedroomed flat which we visited mid-tenancy as the landlord was concerned about the current tenants. It quickly became apparent that up to 30 people were living in the flat, co-workers sleeping in shifts, when only one couple were on the tenancy."


Illustreets: Open Data in action

Launched last autumn and featured in a case study by Cabinet Office as an example of innovative use of Open Data, Illustreets - a location discovery website for home buyers and renters - now has some updated features.

The website features a dynamic map with large amounts of local data, offering advice about any geographic location across England including crime, house prices and rent levels, schools, and employment, as well as cycling routesManuel Timita, who co-developed the app, says: "It looks like houses cost a fortune in almost any location these days, so why then not choose the best location possible?"

The updated version now enables drilling down to smaller geographic areas and includes instant snapshots of an area at a glance.

London without the Thames barrier...