UK's rental sector surges after Covid-19 lockdown

Steve Lumley·8 June 2020·4 min read
UK's rental sector surges after Covid-19 lockdown

Demand in the UK's rental sector for homes surged by 22% after letting agents were allowed to reopen on 13 May, one organisation says.

According to Rightmove, demand for rental properties is growing at a quicker pace than for the residential sales sector.

However, they say that lockdown break-ups, urgent relocations and job losses could be behind the sudden year-on-year increase.

They say that the website's busiest ever day was on Wednesday 27 May when more than six million people looked at homes to rent.

Rightmove's Miles Shipside said: "In the environment we are in now, there's a need for those with specialist jobs to be in a certain place.

‘People wanting to move because of job losses’

"And where some have enjoyed lockdown, the relationships for others haven't survived and this has knock-on consequences, and there could be people wanting to move because of job losses."

He added that with many people working from home may lead to them wanting a 'change of scene' and that there are two-months of ‘pent-up demand’ that needs to be satisfied.

However, he added that new listings on the platform are currently 4% below last year's levels. In the week beginning 6 April, these new listings were 64% below 2019's figure.

Landlords will be facing financial hardship

The National Residential Landlords' Association (NRLA) is also predicting that landlords will be facing financial hardship because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The NRLA's policy director, Chris Norris, said: "Our research shows that 29% of landlords are expecting some level of financial hardship because of the virus.

"It's not surprising that many will now be considering whether they have a future in the rental sector."

He says that the NRLA is now calling on more government action to boost confidence to landlords and tenants that rents will be paid in full.

Letting agents fee ban extends to all tenancies

Meanwhile, the deadline for the banning of letting agent fees for all tenancies occurred this week.

From 1 June, letting agents and landlords are no longer allowed to charge their tenants fees to move into a property including the carrying out of reference and credit checks.

They cannot also charge for insurance policies or other administrative costs including the renewal fees for a tenancy or a professional cleaning service unless they have evidence and good reasons for doing so.

The chief executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Steve Harriott, said: "This is an important date for letting agents and landlords in England as the Tenant Fees Act has come fully into force and the transition period has ended."