Architect Patrik Schumacher has been derided in the media for suggesting millennials don’t need living rooms, but I think he’s bang on the money.
In fact, I’d urge landlords who are targeting the under-35s market in areas where there is a shortage of affordable accommodation to consider turning their living rooms into extra bedrooms — provided they have a kitchen big enough to eat in.
I know some of you will say it isn’t fair to cram young people into shoeboxes, that they need space to socialise, but I rent a property to a bunch of millennials and I know for a fact that they don’t use the living room.
Correction — they use it to dry their clothes and as a dumping ground for bags, but they don’t use it to watch TV, socialise or to eat.
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What’s more, I have been letting this property for years and I’ve rarely known tenants to do more than hang laundry in the living room.
If I turned it into an additional bedroom I would earn more money, but — and this is the really important bit — the tenants would benefit, too, because I could reduce the rent.
If lots of other local landlords did the same, it would boost available accommodation in an area suffering a shortage of cheap rooms.
Of course, landlords should make sure the rest of the property is large enough to accommodate an extra tenant and that there are enough bathrooms and loos. We are not talking overcrowding here.
There also needs to be adequate storage space for such items as coats, clothes and shoes, and landlords will have to check that the fire escape route is adequate for all the tenants.
Landlords who think they have an unused room and want to turn it into a bedroom should check with their local council to see if they will need a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation, or HMO.
Be aware that from October, the rules regarding such properties are changing and landlords who let a place to five or more tenants who aren’t related will have to apply for a licence.
At the same time, the Government plans to introduce a minimum bedroom size for all HMOs of 6.51 square metres, which I think is a mistake. It will mean that there are fewer rooms available, and therefore rents will rise.
A friend of mine has been letting a room a bit smaller than this for years without any complaints from tenants. She reckons that if she is banned from charging for the room from October, the other tenants in the house will more than likely sublet it themselves. To prevent this, she plans to turn it into a bathroom and increase the rent for the rest of the house.
So who wins here? Not millennials who, in my opinion, would prefer to pay less for less space.