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Agency consolidation increasing as fees ban looms, warns ARLA

The Association of Residential Letting Agents says it is seeing a consolidation of agencies ahead of the ban on agents’ fees levied on tenants.

ARLA chief executive David Cox makes the assertion in his summary of the lettings market’s performance in 2017.

“It was always going to be an interesting year, following the announcement of the letting agent fee ban in last November’s Autumn Statement. I think we’re starting to see a consolidation of some agencies in the industry as the fee ban looms, which could explain why the number of properties under management has increased” he says. 

“Landlords are becoming more selective about their property investments in light of last year’s Stamp Duty Land Tax changes. Mortgage Interest Relief is starting to bite which is why we saw an increased number of landlords selling up. It’s likely that as we move into 2018, tenants will continue to see rent increases as supply starts to reduce, demand continues apace, and legislative changes increase costs for landlords” he says.

ARLA’s figures for the year show that supply of rental properties was at its highest in January, when it stood at 193. On average in 2016, the number of properties available per branch was 180, compared to 188 from January – October 2017.

This year, the number of buy to let landlords selling their properties peaked in March and April when agents reported a 33 per cent spike in the number of landlords selling up.

In August, the number of tenants experiencing rent hikes peaked at 35 per cent, before falling to 27 per cent in September. Rents for tenants were least likely to increase in October (22 per cent) but overall in 2017, 27 per cent of tenants had their rents increased compared to 26 per cent in 2016.

On average, properties were viewed more times before being let in 2017, than 2016. In 2016, letting agents typically hosted five viewings per property, which rose to six in 2017.

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