An analysis by Britain’s biggest letting agency, Countrywide, has thrown up a little known fact - with applications for school places made in January, half of families with children living in the private rental sector choose to move in June, July, August or September.
While those buying a home have long paid a premium to live within the catchment area of a good school, intense competition for school places is increasingly feeding through into the rental market, says Countrywide.
Its latest quarterly lettings index shows that so far in 2015, 28 per cent of properties rented across the UK within a kilometre of an OFSTED outstanding school were made to families, up from under 10 per cent in 2008.
The total is even higher for outstanding secondary schools with a third of properties rented going to families with children.
The figures are particularly pronounced in London where for the first time in 2015, over half of properties rented were to families in the kilometre surrounding an outstanding school.
While this is a product of the significant increase in competition for school places, the growing number of families living in the private rented sector means more of them move both for work and their children’s education. While the figures in London are most marked for schools rated outstanding, the pressure on school places in the capital means there has been uplift in families with children renting in the area surrounding most schools.
Given it is the address from which the school application is made in January that the application is assessed against, the summer months are when most families think about moving. Over half of families with children in the private rented sector move during June, July, August or September in time for the forthcoming academic year.
Households with children moving into the area close to an outstanding school don’t move far, an average of just half a mile. This confirms the fine margins involved getting into school catchment areas. This distance is considerably shorter than the three miles the average households in the private rented sector moves.
As with house prices, tenants pay a premium to live close to a high performing school. But given that tenants move more often than homeowners, this premium tends to be smaller.
In 2015 the average tenant living within a kilometre of a school rated outstanding paid 14 per cent more than someone living more than a kilometre away. While the premium attached to one and two bedroom flats is almost negligible, tenants living in three or four bedroom houses pay an average of 16 per cent more.
Where catchment areas are particularly tightly defined, a house on one side of the road can be let for 15 to 20 per cent more than an identical house on the other side.