One of the country’s major lettings agency chiefs says there is a “massive” change in tenant priorities underway.
Michael Cook, national lettings managing director at Leaders Romans Group, says that there has been a substantial shift in the rental market largely due to pent-up demand from tenants as well as a surge in purchases of buy to let properties thanks to the stamp duty holiday.
“At the same time, Covid has massively changed tenant priorities” he claims.
“Many now seek separate working spaces, in bigger homes with gardens – a demand that is now coming at a premium. This has changed the appetite for rental stock outside of London, which has outpaced that shown in the capital, as fewer people have needed to be in such close proximity to the office and instead turned to home working.
“We have also seen houses increase in demand over flats with people looking to rent bigger properties for longer, which is in turn increasing average tenancy lengths. This trend is nothing new, as demand for family homes in the rental market has continued to rise over the last decade – and we expect this to continue given the challenges around first-time-buyers, particularly those with young families.”
He says that there are signs of a traditional winter seasonal reduction in new applicant enquiries although because of the unusual nature of 2020 properties are still letting quickly,.
However, Cook says: “[There is] more sensitivity around prices in parts of the capital than other regions. With shorter days, as well the new lockdown, we anticipate customers taking advantage of agencies that offer a comprehensive virtual viewing platform to arrange property visits.”
A new report from Zoopla out yesterday says that average rents in London have fallen by 5.2 per cent over the last 12 months, reaching levels last seen in 2014 as new working patterns and lack of tourism during the pandemic dominate the market.
However, despite challenges faced by the impact of Covid-19’s second wave, the wider UK rental market appears resilient with a 1.7 per cent growth on average outside the country excluding London.