How to slash the costs of renting

Ned Browne

For many people—especially the young and single—renting has become a fact of life. But there are ways to dramatically reduce the amount of rent you pay…

Live-in guardians

moving house

Guardian schemes first appeared early in the new millennium. It seemed, and still does to a certain extent, to be a win-win solution. Businesses, councils and private landlords could rent out properties earmarked for refurbishment or demolition to people who were happy to watch over them. The property owners saved on expensive security and their properties were less likely to be vandalised. Tenants paid much-reduced rents and often got to live in unorthodox properties in great locations.

This market has now swelled to at least 25 companies offering live-in guardian schemes, some of whom have been accused of profiteering. Before you sign up to such a scheme, carefully research the companies. Google reviews are a great source of information.

You should also be aware that there are often various additional rules and regulations, such as no overnight visitors, limited sole occupation rights and the fact that guardians must be ready vacate the building at short notice.  

Always read the small print. Also, do not expect to be doted on—maintenance, repairs and cleaning are all part of being a guardian.

Guardianship is still a great option, but there is no substitute for research. If you scour the market, you’ll find there are lots of properties of interest.

 

Live with an older person

live with older person save on rent

Similar to property guardianship, this scheme seeks to be mutually beneficial. Homeshare UK aims to match older homeowners with people looking for low-cost accommodation. The homeowner provides a comfortable room, often in a lovely location, in exchange for around 10 hours of practical support.

This is how it works: “The home sharer does not pay rent to the householder. Instead, both parties pay a fee to the Homeshare scheme to cover the costs incurred in finding and supporting good matches. The home-sharer may also pay a contribution to household bills.”

The average fees are £160 per month for the home-sharer and £140 per month for the homeowner. But these vary in accordance with the local economy—expect to pay more in London.

There are downsides. Some home-sharers have complained of escalating chores and of being treated as an employee rather than a tenant. As always, tread carefully. As with all walks of life, it’s about finding a person with whom you’re compatible.

 

Rent a house and then sublet the rooms

sublet and save

This is a high-risk option not for the faint-hearted. But it might be the most financially astute option. It’s a simple concept: you rent out an entire property for a fixed monthly fee, and then sublet the spare bedrooms, in the process reducing or negating the amount you would normally pay for renting a single room.

Of course, to do this, you would need permission from the landlord. You may be surprised to find out that many landlords are willing to agree to this. They benefit from having a contract with one person and a single point of contact.