Room for rent
Even though our eldest daughter is only weeks out of her teens and still a student, I’ve become obsessed by wondering whether she and her two younger sisters and younger brother will ever be able to afford homes of their own.
Thanks to her student loan and her own get up and go she’s more or less self-sufficient already, but there’s a world of difference between borrowing and waitressing enough to pay £80 a week for a house you share with four others and buying your own home.
The Government has tried to bridge the gap with the Help-to-Buy scheme, which offers first-time buyers a 95% mortgage. But even that doesn’t seem to be affordable. Campaigners representing those who cannot afford to buy their own place have worked out that those using the Help-to-Buy scheme are obliged to pay such high mortgage rates compared with those able to raise bigger deposits that they would be better off renting and continuing to save a bigger deposit. According to PricedOut.org.uk, even under a Help to Buy mortgage first time buyers would be paying up to £300 a month more on a mortgage than they would renting.
So what’s the answer? When I was growing up the most enterprising mum in the area lost no time in taking in a lodger the moment the eldest of her three sons left for university. It meant that she swapped her own leggy, constantly starving teenager for someone else’s and used the rent money to pay for the conservatory she had built to ensure that there was room for everyone to eat when they came home for Christmas with girlfriends and eventually, grandchildren.
I remember being gobsmacked at her chutzpah, but it worked brilliantly. She usually managed to send the lodgers home for Christmas and the summer holidays. Though there were some inevitable times when her sons ended up camping out on the sitting room sofa when they came home for the weekend.
Would that work now, I wondered? After all, we do now have a tiny if perfectly formed spare room for 30 weeks a year now Ella is at uni – I can’t bring myself to say “moved out” just yet.
Well, yes, and as usual, I’m way behind the curve. My friend Alison, the architect, who’s just moved house, is already thinking of renting out her spare room before her children (the youngest is six months old) realise it’s there and annex it for a playroom. She pointed me in the direction of airbnb.co.uk, a website that enables people to rent out their spare rooms for as many or as few days as they like. Rooms in my neighbourhood are going for between £6 and £115 a night.
Now I know my home-cooked breakfast may not be up to the standard of The Savoy, but £6? For that price the only one forced out of their bed to kip on the sofa would be Doughnut.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn