In the UK, 1 in 5 people rent their home from a private landlord, a number that has doubled since the early 2000s. This equates to about 5 million households: a far higher proportion than many realise, and an important and valuable audience for home brands. And these households are not just young people and students, as some stereotypes would have you believe, with 58% of privately rented households headed up by someone over the age of 35. They’re a key audience, with specific needs for brands to address.
Home brands failing to cater to renters
Far too often though, renters are overlooked by home brands due to the challenges they face in making their rental houses a home. Renting can be precarious, with renters moving accommodation far more often than homeowners. This means they are often hesitant to invest too much in furniture or homeware that might not suit or fit a future home. Restrictions placed by landlords on how far renters can make changes to their space can also create challenges: generally, walls are painted plain white, and tenants face difficulty in getting permission to make changes.
An opportunity for home brands
However, this also presents a great opportunity for home brands to support renters in making their spaces feel more personal. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention: working within these restrictions can lead to creativity and playfulness. Just look at Amara, a home influencer whose renter-friendly hacks have earned her 25k Instagram followers who she inspires to use damage-free decorating to make their mark on their space. Solutions include damage free decals and vinyls that can be peeled off after use; bright and cheerful accessories; and furniture that is adjustable to different spaces. Seeing a space like Amara’s is a breath of fresh air for renters.
A few brands are delivering great solutions already. A personal favourite is 3M Command strips, a clever solution to hang wall art or hooks that remove cleanly – winning me my deposit back in three properties.
On Etsy, you can find a huge range of independent makers offering tile stickers to brighten up a kitchen or bathroom. And resale platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Spock and Gumtree connect renters to buy and sell furniture cheaply to refresh their space; pretty close to a circular economy as most furniture pieces seem to hold their price when it comes to time to sell. These platforms are also great places for renters to find DIY projects, with high-quality but time-worn vintage pieces that can be brought back to life with a bit of love and elbow grease.
Could home brands go a step further?
Going further though, I think there is an opportunity for brands to push the renter-friendly home design movement into something, well, more renter-friendly. Could brands support renters in approaching their landlords for permission to make bigger changes? Looking at Amara’s home for example, it’s clear that her changes have added value, and she has been careful to only make changes she can switch back if her landlord does indeed want her to. Brands could provide templates to approach landlords and agree their plans together, pointing out the value of a space with more personality as well as the fact that a happier tenant is more likely to stay in the home for longer and look after the property better.
Over time, this more relaxed attitude could help to normalise more substantial changes, opening up a whole new audience for DIY brands. As the number of private renters looks unlikely to decrease, supporting them to feel more at-home is a brilliant way for brands to inspire and connect with new audiences.