There’s still some way to go for the lettings market to return to its pre-pandemic best according to Knight Frank - and that applies especially in London and south east England.
In a summary of the past 12 months, the agency says reports that students and corporate tenants account for a significant element of demand for new tenancies - a trend developing over the last 12 months as offices and education have reopened with face to face activity.
Supply has been patchy, with a surge 12 months ago as former short-let properties were shifted by landlords to the mainstream rental sector - however, as lockdown restrictions were relaxed, they switched back, meaning prospective tenants were involved in what Knight Frank calls a “scramble for stock”.
The stamp duty holiday exacerbated the situation, with many would-be landlords opting to sell.
Knight Frank says that after pre-Christmas fears over the Omicron variant - now thankfully easing - students and companies are back on track with their plans.
Corporate relocation enquiries ran five times higher in the final quarter of last year than in much of 2020; however, as if to illustrate the demand-supply imbalance, the number of market valuation appraisals was only 38 per cent higher.
The agency warns that demand from corporate tenants will rise as spring approaches. Companies that are activating or re-activating plans may find they are doing so at the same time as their peers.
“Everything points towards a scramble for stock this spring” according to Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank.
He adds: “Any re-balancing between supply and demand in the lettings market will only come later this year at the earliest.”