A prominent lettings agency chief says the lifecycle of a typical tenancy has been transformed in recent years, as a result of Covid.
Anita Mehra, managing director of London-focussed agency Benham and Reeves, says before the pandemic, the lifecycle might involve a tenant typically renting a property for 12 months and then perhaps renewing for another year, before moving on.
They might move on because they are changing jobs or they might just like to live in a different area of London, and moving to a new rental property was not seen as a major decision.
But she says: “Since the pandemic, tenants tend not to move just because they would like a change of scene. They are now often choosing to renew their tenancies and remain where they are, as they realise that there are so few properties to choose from. And because rents have risen sharply since the pandemic, they know they are unlikely to find an equivalent property at a similar rent.
“So a good proportion of tenants are renewing their leases and staying put, usually moving only due to a change of circumstances. We expect this trend to continue this year due to housing shortages and tighter financial conditions for consumers but remain hopeful that 2023 will see a more typical tenancy lifecycle and more movement in the market.”
Mehra adds that the growing number of Londoners returning to the capital after the pandemic is continuing to exacerbate the shortage of rental properties.
“Many professionals are once again craving the vibrant city lifestyle and normality they have missed over the last couple of years so finding a new home in the capital is now a priority. As a result, property shortages remain a key issue for letting agents” she says.
Across the firm’s 19 branches in April there was a 27 per cent increase in new applicants registering compared to March, plus many renewals.
“As we currently have waiting lists of fully referenced tenants looking to move into new homes as soon as they become available, most of our rental stock is letting after just a couple of viewings. And many of the latest property instructions … are not even advertised on our website as we can offer them to good quality tenants who we have already qualified for renting.
Properties that do reach our website are usually let within a day or two at most – and in some cases perhaps just half an hour. Just a phone call to an applicant we are already in contact with will ensure the property will be let almost immediately, often without a physical viewing taking place.”