More of us are living in rented accommodation; 4.6 million by the latest estimates. And this number is likely to grow even more over the next few years as the cost of living crisis worsens.
But what should renters do about furnishing their spaces, when a £2,000 sofa might not fit or suit the living room of their next home?
Furniture stores are providing an answer: offering dining tables, chairs, sofas, beds, rugs — even art — to rent for as little as three months at a time.
Rental revolution: Borrowing rather than buying is a brilliant way to create a welcoming space without having to spend your home deposit on doing so
Borrowing rather than buying is a brilliant way to create a welcoming space without having to spend your home deposit on doing so.
The trend has sustainability credentials, too; renting cuts down on the amount of cheap furniture that ends up in landfill when the time comes to upgrade.
‘We get many people who are renting a place for a few months and just want stop-gap furniture for that time,’ says Sam Wilsher, founder of Monty Space (0203 9662598), which offers ready-made room packages as well as individual pieces for rent.
For a one-bedroom flat you get a sofa, coffee table, media unit, dining table, dining chairs, double bed, mattress, bedside tables and two bedside lamps.
You pay £139 a month which includes delivery, installation and collection. Furniture packs for two-bedroom flats start from £189 a month.
‘Renting furniture is also popular with sharers who don’t want to furnish a place together — it’s easier to rent and simply hand it all back at the end of a tenancy,’ adds Sam.
First-time buyers may also find it useful if savings have been wiped out, having just shelled out on the property itself.
It also enabled them to ‘live in their home for a while and work out how they use each room and what they need for it’, says Sam.
Newly separated or divorced people who need to set up home quickly can benefit from rental services, as well as for expats moving to the UK, needing to set up home.
How renting furniture works
The rental service is straightforward; you pick and choose individual furniture items, decide how long you want them for, with a minimum of three months, and then they’ll be delivered and assembled.
They are charged at a fixed monthly rate, though you might get a better price for pieces with longer rental agreements.
Once you come to the end of the contract you can hand the furniture back or if you become attached to something, there is the option to buy it; you just pay the difference between the sale price and what you’ve paid in rent so far. If an item is returned seriously damaged, there might be charges.
Where can I rent furniture from?
Rental service Homebound offers hundreds of pieces, from sofas and beds to dining tables and chairs, to those living in London and the South-East.
There are plans to expand to other cities this year.
A stylish petrol-blue velvet three-seater sofa costs from £52 a month and a boho four-poster bed frame from £48.50 a month.
People value being able to select furniture that they like and fits their style, rather than having it dictated to them by their landlord
Furniture is offered brand new, or you can rent from the pre-loved range where prices are reduced.
A number of High Street retailers have trialled furniture rental, but none has made it as a permanent fixture.
John Lewis ran a rental service last year, which proved to be a roaring success.
When the rental service first launched, almost every item was snapped up within the first 48 hours. Ikea and Muji also piloted schemes.
Renting doesn’t mean compromising on style. You can choose from Scandi, contemporary and luxe packages at Monty Space.
‘People value being able to select furniture that they like and fits their style, rather than having it dictated to them by their landlord what furniture they get,’ says Sam Wilsher. ‘Our white glove delivery service means they don’t have to lift a finger.’
He said that modular pieces are often chosen — by his team of interior designers — for maximum flexibility.
A key decider in selecting furniture is looking at interior trends as well as being practical, versatile and comfortable.
At Homebound, Oscar Lie says they focus on timeless versus unique pieces so they can be rented for several cycles.
He said: ‘With a broad customer base we opt for pieces that use a plethora of materials and textures — linens, velvets, wood, metal, marble and so on. This helps customers mix and match, according to their own taste.’
Savings of the week: Frying pans
Frying pans have been around since complicated cooking began, with records of their use in ancient Mesopotamia from about 3,000BC.
On February 21, Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, millions will reach for a frying pan. Skill is required.
Sweet: The heart-shaped 26cm Le Creuset pan, is down from £145 to £108.95 at Philip Morris Direct (philipmorrisdirect.co.uk)
But buying a decent non-stick pan is more gratifying if you pay less for it.
At Argos there are reductions, for example the Tefal Titanium 21cm pan at £13.33 and the 28cm model at £16.
The Tefal Cook Healthy 30cm pan is half-price at £17 (argos.co.uk). Asda’s Simplicity pan, in grey, is £7, down from £10 (asda.com).
Some argue successful pancake making relies on an expensive pan. So it is handy to know that the 28cm John Lewis Thermacore pan which was £75 is now £52.50 (johnlewis.com).
The romantically minded could celebrate Pancake Day with the heart-shaped 26cm Le Creuset pan, down from £145 to £108.95 at Philip Morris Direct.