The dream of owning your own home is something that many of us aspire to. Being in charge of your own property, having your own space, and being able to know you have a roof over your head – it’s easy to see why it’s a goal for most people.
However, for most, the stage before owning your own home is that you have to rent. Renting is never easy; in fact, it can be inherently stressful. It’s your home but… it’s not your home; you are always going to be beholden to another person.
Many younger people are struggling to find the money to pay ever-rising rent costs and save for their own home, which means the home ownership dream is well and truly on ice for the millennial generation. There have been some insulting suggestions that a lack of home ownership for Generation Y is a matter of choice when, in reality, it’s enforced upon them by financial circumstances.
If you find yourself in the above situation, it can feel like you’re stuck in a loop you don’t want to be in. You want to buy, like everyone else, but the high rent cost you pay doesn’t leave much room to save for a down payment. So you become a reluctant renter, trying to make the best of a bad situation.
That can be tough to do, because renting is fraught and can be hugely problematic. We have all heard horror stories about landlords keeping security deposits for small infractions; not keeping the building in a good condition; and a thousand and one other problems that crop up when you are effectively borrowing your home.
However… maybe it’s not all doom and gloom. Maybe there’s an upside to renting that is often overlooked, because we’re all so ingrained to think that home ownership is the be-all and end-all. While there are always going to be drawbacks to renting, there’s a few good points as well – so why not try focusing on these? Positive vibes only and all that!
1) If Something Goes Wrong, It’s Not Your Problem
If your boiler stops working, an in-built appliance explodes, or the roof begins to leak… what do you care? It’s not your problem.
The freedom that this gives to a renter cannot be understated. Sure, you have to do basic work to ensure you’re maintaining your building to a good standard; there’s probably a clause in your tenancy agreement that insists you have to do that.
But the big stuff, which impacts the structure of the house? That’s not your problem. You don’t need to pay a small fortune in expensive house insurance; nor do you have to be concerned with suddenly needing to find the cash for extensive repairs. No, if the big bad things happen, then you can just shrug them off, call your landlord, and wait for it to be fixed. Better yet, you might even be entitled to ask for a discount on the rent if an essential facility is denied to you while the problem is fixed.
2) Moving Is Easy
Let’s say you find yourself in a situation where you don’t like your neighbors. They play loud music; they talk all night; or they are just plain unpleasant to be around.
If you owned the property, that’d pretty much be tough luck for you. Even if you were really determined to escape them, you’d have to go through a long laborious process. You’d have to get your home ready to sell, find a buyer, find a new property that you want to move into, go through the move… it’s a process that takes months, not weeks.
As a renter, though? You could give notice and be out of there in a few weeks, with nothing to consider beforehand apart from getting packed and ready to go. This disposable nature of renting means that’s perfect when you want a quick change for good reasons – such as a new job that requires a relocation – too. It shouldn’t be underestimated, especially if you’re just beginning to negotiate the career ladder and might need to relocate for the sake of your job. It gets a little more complicated as you get older and have a family, but there’s still a flexibility to renting that should not be underappreciated.
#3 – Knowledge Is Power
The vast majority of problems that people have when renting are because the tenant didn’t know their rights or read their contract properly. When this is the case, you’re open to being taken advantage of.
If, however, you take the time to fully understand your rental agreement, then you can be careful and cautious the whole way through. Knowing to photograph everything in the building or just to ensure the list of what’s included is suitable for you – they make a huge difference. If you then know a little bit about your rights and how your landlord can and can’t behave, then you’re in a powerful position.
It can be hard to summon up the courage to challenge your landlord if they behave in a way you’re not happy with. If, however, you are clued up and know what should be what, you can demand a modicum of respect. Remember: you’re helping your landlord to pay their bills and mortgage. They need you as much as you need them. Keep this in mind in all interactions and you will exude knowledgeable confidence, which makes it far more likely you’ll be able to have a trouble-free tenancy.
So… while renting might not be the way of living that you’ve dreamed of, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good way of living. Know your rights as a tenant, appreciate the flexibility, and be assured in the knowledge that if something goes wrong with the building, it’s not going to be you who has to figure it out. If you can couple all of the above with finding a rental property that’s a good deal, you’ll be safe in the moment and also secure enough to be able to save up for the future. Good luck!