Multiple occupancy may combat rental loneliness

 
Multiple occupancy may combat rental loneliness (iStock)

Young people who rent property in areas they are unfamiliar with are among the most lonely in society, according to a new survey.

Office for National Statistics figures revealed that the people most likely to either be 'always' or 'often' lonely are aged between 16 and 24 and who lack a sense of trust or belonging in the area they live in. 

This is a problem that may apply in particular to graduates, who move away from home for work reasons in their early 20s and will be in between one phase of life - when they have the student community around them - and another when they are able to put down roots, such as by marrying and having a family. 

Around ten per cent of 'generation rent' suffer frequent loneliness, around double the national rate. 

Other groups identified as being particularly vulnerable include single middle-aged people with long-term health conditions and older people living alone. The latter group are more likely to be widowed and have mobility constraints that reduce their ability to socialise. 

At the same time, the number of lonely people among generation rent was three times as high as among over-65s, which indicates that while some old people are lonely, many - either those in long-term relationships or with good social connections - are anything but.

While this is a broad social issue with a range of root causes, the fact that renters are among those most likely to feel isolated may push the market towards the supply of more co-living space, with a reduction in the amount of single-occupancy homes. 

Indeed, this may offer young people moving to a new area a chance to share accomodation with others more familiar with the locality, making the process of settling in easier. 

However, this will not eliminate demand for homes for a single occupant, as many people will still feel perfectly content with living on their own, with the independence and control that this brings being more important to some than their need for close company.