Should parents charge their adult children rent? What the experts say

Nearly a quarter of families have a adult children living with them. (Getty Images)
Nearly a quarter of families have adult children living with them. (Getty Images)

With the cost of living crisis ongoing, it’s no wonder that more children are still living with their parents well into young adulthood.

In fact, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data says that around one in every four and a half families (22.4%) have an adult child living with them – up from 13.6% in 2011.

The ONS data also found that non-dependent children over the age of 18 were more likely to live with their parents in areas where housing was less affordable, and more male adult children (60.8%) were living with their parents than female adult children (39.2%).

The average age for adult children living with their parents was 24, which had increased by one year since the 2011 statistics.

Why are more adult children living with their parents?

There can be a number of reasons why adult children live with their parents, but parenting expert and author, Liat Hughes Joshi, says property prices are the primary reason.

"If you work near where your parents live, you have the choice of going home and living there or a very overpriced rented room in a shared house which might not be as nice," Hughes Joshi explains. "It's simply logical to stay at home longer. There's not the expectation that you leave home at 18 or 21 anymore. In my circle of friends in London, there's definitely an expectation that our kids will return home after university for a few years."

Jen Pollock, senior associate solicitor in family law from Irwin Mitchell adds that the rise in university prices could also be a factor.

Moving back home after university is increasingly common. (Getty Images)
Moving back home after university is increasingly common. (Getty Images)

"The increase in the cost of living, especially rent, is having a huge impact on the ability of young people to manage to live independently whilst they are establishing themselves,” Pollock says. “There have also been huge increases to the cost of university tuition, which makes it impossible for some young people to live away from home and study at the same time."

Psychologist and relationship adviser, Barbara Santini, adds that it could be a strategic decision that can benefit both financial stability and career flexibility.

"This trend reflects broader economic realities and changing attitudes towards traditional milestones of adulthood," she says.

Should parents be charging their adult children rent?

One recent survey of 1,000 British parents whose adult children live at home found that just over half (55%) of the respondents charge their kids rent.

However, the average rent price set by the parents was just £25.55 per week – or £110.71 per month.

"It is not unreasonable to expect a contribution to household costs if your adult child is working," Pollock says. "However, if [the child’s] focus is on saving for a deposit, many parents will forego a contribution in order to help their child bolster their savings and make that next step to independence more quickly."

Santini adds that whether or not to charge your child rent is a "complex interplay of financial education, family dynamics, and personal development".

"From one perspective, charging rent can be seen as a pragmatic approach to teaching financial responsibility, instilling in young adults the value of money and the realities of living costs," she explains.

"On the flip side, the decision to charge rent must be tempered with compassion and understanding of the individual's financial situation, career stage, and the broader economic landscape. For some families, this approach might strain relationships or place undue pressure on young adults striving for financial independence in a challenging economy."

Hughes Joshi says that, ultimately, it all comes down to personal circumstances and whether you need money from your child if they are living under your roof or not.

"If you do, and they're earning, I absolutely think parents should feel comfortable asking for a contribution," she explains. "It doesn't need to be rent if that feels too 'transactional' though. It could be they pay for some of the grocery shops or a particular bill – whatever drops the guilt, as having an extra adult to house will be costing you more."

Cheerful mid adult man and his senior parents laughing while embracing in the kitchen.
Men are more likely to live with their parents as adults than women. (Getty Images)

If you don’t need the extra money, Hughes Joshi adds that it would be worth having a conversation with your child about making sure they are putting the money they are saving on rent into savings to potentially afford their own property down the line.

She continues: "They're an adult so you can't force them to do that but I think a gentle discussion suggesting it and explaining your hopes is entirely reasonable."

Can living parents as an adult impact a child's mental health?

While Santini says living at home can provide a mental health safety net and inbuilt support system, it can also lead to delayed emotional and financial independence.

"Other potential pitfalls include reduced motivation for career advancement, and possible tensions arising from unmet expectations on both sides," she adds.

"It's crucial for families to navigate these dynamics with clear communication, setting boundaries that promote independence while offering support."

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