Why more ‘parent landlords’ are letting directly to children


The unexpected rise of the ‘parent landlord’

As UK house prices continue to climb, increasing numbers of parents are letting second homes directly to their offspring. A match made in heaven? Or a recipe for disaster?

As you’ll no doubt have seen, house prices in the UK are still on the rise. Even amongst a shaky economic backdrop, they seem to have no intention of veering off course.

It’s a trend that’s causing first-time buyers a great deal of heartache.

But is it a trend that explains the rise of a new kind of landlord?

‘Parent landlords’ set to double in the next few years

If new research by the Post Office Money Mortgages is anything to go by, the answer’s yes.

Their recent report predicted the number of ‘parent landlords’ (i.e. parents letting second homes directly to their children) could double as first-homes become increasingly difficult to buy.

730,000 parent landlords already exist in the UK – but the figure is expected to shoot up to 1.4million. After unveiling the numbers, the  report looks at precisely why more and more landlords are choosing to let to their children.

Why more and more landlords are letting to their children

As you’d expect, financial aid was cited as a prime motivator, with 24% of current or prospective parent landlords admitting they wanted to help their children save money.

Average rental rates, though, suggest the above 24% is artificially low. An incredible 19 out of every 20 parent landlords charge less than market rental rates and almost a third let children pay ‘what they can afford’. One in ten parent landlords even cover household bills.

There are, of course, other reasons…

Financial support isn’t the only reason parents cited for letting directly to children, though. More than a quarter wanted to provide a safe home for their children and 24% wanted to keep them close by.

Then there’s the other end of the scale.

21% of parent landlords claim they want children out of the family home and 25% say their second home is primarily an investment. The fact it’s let to their children is apparently incidental.

Are parent landlord asking for trouble?

You might think keeping property in the family would lead to a smoother tenant-landlord relationship. Some parent landlords, though, seem to disagree.

1 in 3 parent landlords worry about clashes over rent. A quarter worry about how well their property will be cared for. And a fifth are concerned about their kids hosting raucous house parties.

Whilst such concerns might seem surprising, parent landlords may well rely on social contracts to regulate their tenants. Such arrangements are rarely wise, and we’d always advise landlords – whether parent or otherwise – to contact an expert when letting a property, no matter who the tenant might be.

A few, basic ground rules don’t just ease concern. They also show kids how the real world works.

How to ensure a win-win situation

On the face of things, letting directly to children seems to make sense.

On one side of the arrangement, parents get their mortgages paid whilst their property price increases. And on the other, child tenants benefit from a (presumably) well-kept property and most likely reduced rental rates.

But tenant-landlord disputes are a very real concern. Given the nature of the relationship, disputes could easily begin to rattle family ties.

Although it may seem unnecessary, parent landlords should take extra care to arrange appropriate legal documentation.

After all, those letting to family have a great deal more to lose.