Neil Thompson: Families turn to renting to secure places at good schools

Picture: Callum Bennetts
Picture: Callum Bennetts
Share this article
Have your say

PROXIMITY to a good school, which has historically boosted house prices within certain locations, is having an effect on residential rental rates, too.

According to the website, the 2011 census results showed a steep rise in the number of families renting in London, and that access to education was increasingly affecting the rental market. However, the phenomenon is growing north of the Border, too.

The site said renting near the best performing schools would cost, on average, 30 per cent more than near lower performing schools. However, what really stood out was the considerable premium for rental properties close to the top performing schools, with rents £50 higher per week on average than even the next best (yet still very good) schools.

In East Renfrewshire – where I live – people will certainly pay a premium to rent a home. Some tenants may actually choose to rent there to live in the catchment area of a good state school, even if the location is not particularly convenient for the main breadwinner and means that he or she has a long commute.

The same is almost certainly true of other areas on the periphery of Glasgow – such as Bearsden or Bishopbriggs – where the state schools have a good academic record.

There have even been instances of people falsifying leases just to get into the local schools, even though they do not actually live in the catchment area. One example might be buying a small flat to become a local taxpayer, but not actually living in it.

Before the banking crisis, the annual increase in capital values in places like East Renfrewshire meant that you could buy and flat and still make a profit without renting it out. Consequently, local authorities responsible for affected areas cracked down strongly by insisting on evidence of council tax and utility records, etc, in order to prove residence.

However, the “legal” method of getting one’s children into a chosen state school through accommodation is likely to continue to rise. In fact, renting rather than buying one’s way into a “good school” may become the preferred option among parents given the simplicity of the former over the latter.

• Neil Thompson heads the Glasgow office of D J Alexander, the letting and estate agency.