Should I rent or should I buy? There was a time in the fairly recent past when aspiring young Londoners had a choice: they could afford either to rent or to get on the property ladder with a starter home.
But for most young people today, renting is their only option — even though, in most parts of Britain, it is the more expensive choice.
The paradox of buying being cheaper but home ownership being out of reach to many is due, as we know, to mortgage lenders demanding huge deposits, which most twenty- and thirty-somethings cannot raise.
It is likely to remain a landlords' market until the banks regain the nerve to lend us more money.
The only good news is that the type of landlord is changing — and for the better. New rental companies backed by big financial institutions and developers are launching blocks of new-build flats and targeting tenants who want fair-priced homes from a landlord they can trust.
Housing associations are also beefing up their rental provision. Private renting now accounts for 27 per cent of all homes in London and has overtaken social renting (24 per cent). Associations are targeting the growing number of "intermediate renters" — those who cannot afford to buy but whose income is too high for them to qualify for housing benefit and who are therefore reliant on private landlords.
To qualify, you must have a job paying less than £60,000 a year in the public or private sector. Rents are set at 75-80 per cent of open-market rates to make them affordable.
In most cases, intermediate-rent homes are part of new-build developments where shared-ownership and private sale flats are available, too. Housing associations also take nominations from local authority waiting lists so it is a good idea to register with your local council, either the one where you live or work (or both). London & Quadrant offers a "rent to buy" option called Up-to-You, which gives back part of the rent paid after five years. Origin, which operates mainly north of the river, has a funky new scheme of 221 rental apartments in Enfield. Called The Bloc, rents start at £600 a month. Call 0800 068 8990.
Thames Valley Housing Association's Fizzy Living brand targets "the Facebook generation", with flats marketed through social media rather than estate agents. Rents start at £1,050 a month and schemes have been unveiled in Canning Town and Epsom. Visit fizzyliving.com.
Go Native, a serviced apartment company, is offering 159 new rentals at Pioneer Point, Ilford. Fully furnished flats cost from £230 a week. Call 020 7313 3886.
Grainger, a long-established property company, is branching out into "build to rent", developing blocks of flats and retaining units for let rather than selling them on to private investors. Its debut project is a scheme of 100 flats in London Road in Barking town centre.
At East Village, on the Olympic Park, roughly half of the 2,818 homes will be private rentals, making it the largest such scheme in the UK. These flats will be ready to move into later this year. Visit eastvillagelondon.co.uk.
Government plans to improve renting
In December the Government introduced a £200 million fund and set up a private-rented taskforce to tempt investment companies into this sector. This is getting results.
Genesis housing association has sold 401 flats at its brand-new Stratford Halo development in east London to M&G Investments, which is leasing back the flats to Genesis for 35 years.
Unusually, fixed rental periods of up to five years will be offered — a change from the typical 12-month tenancies which experts say are a barrier to families renting.