THE BLOG

Long Live the Living Room

05/12/2014 15:45 GMT | Updated 04/02/2015 10:59 GMT

The festive season is upon us. At some point over the next couple of weeks most of us will have a cosy evening decorating the Christmas tree in our Christmas jumper, listening to the Pogues and drinking mulled wine. People living in house shares are no exception. Except they are, well 16% of them. That's because 16% of shared homes don't have a living room.

As you'd expect, the situation is most extreme in London, with almost a fifth of sharers living without the comfort of a communal space. Outside London, the cities where sharers are least likely to have living rooms include Glasgow, Liverpool and Aberdeen.

It's not simply landlords cramming as many people as possible into their properties. Some tenants choose to use the living room as an extra bedroom to keep their rent down - 69% of sharers say they'd live in a home with no living room in exchange for cheaper rent. I did exactly that when I first moved to London. It was workable because I was living with close friends, so using one of our bedrooms as a communal space too was an option - but it was far from ideal.

People who choose to compromise on a living room aren't moaning about it, they're just getting on with it. It's a sign of the times - a symptom of a private rented sector that's struggling to cope with such intense demand. But the living room is often what makes or breaks a shared house - the word 'shared' is a bit of a giveaway. Without a proper communal space, you may as well live in bedsits. Why live with other people if you don't have anywhere to actually sit together? It's a shame that so many sharers have to choose between affordable and sociable when they should reasonably be able to expect both.

So, when your cat/toddler/drunken other half knocks over your tree this December and you curse them as you're hoovering up needles, raise a glass to those living without a living room. It's not the worst plight you can be in, but it says a lot about how unaffordable our housing has become.