There has been ‘a significant shift in where tenants want to rent’

Living in and out of lockdown for more than a year has meant many people have re-evaluated what they want from their homes and when it comes to what matters most, living in London is no longer a priority for many renters.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of private sector tenants leaving London in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research.

A survey of National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) members, conducted by the research consultancy BVA-BDRC, found that 56% of landlords with properties in central London saw tenant demand fall in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Just 12% reported that demand had increased.

In Outer London, 45% of landlords reported demand having fallen, with 33% saying it had increased.

Landlords renting properties in London were the only ones in the country to report that tenant demand had fallen more than it increased, the study shows.

Tenant demand was strongest in Wales, with 57% of landlords renting property there having reported an increase over the same period, compared to just 2% who registered a fall in demand.

This was followed by landlords renting property in the South West, where 53% reported an increase in demand, compared to 13% who registered a fall.

Overall, across England and Wales, 31% of landlords reported tenant demand for properties had increased in the first quarter of 2021. This has recovered from the 14% of landlords who reported tenant demand having increased in the second quarter of 2020 in the aftermath of the first lockdown.

Nationally, whilst 7% of landlords had brought property in the first three months, the same proportion had sold property.

Central and outer London continues to be the only regions where a significant proportion of landlords reported that rents are falling – by 46% and 27% respectively.

Landlords with property in London were also more likely to have reduced rents across their own portfolio in 2020 – 46% reduced them in central London, while 26% reduced them in outer London.

Ben Beadle

Across the country, 32 per cent of landlords had experience of properties being void in the first quarter of 2021, with the average void period being 102 days.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “The pandemic has seen a significant shift in where tenants want to rent, with the trend towards home working making inner cities, especially London, far less desirable.

“This poses significant challenges in determining where to invest to meet demand. Investors will no doubt be waiting for the market to settle, and the full roadmap out of lockdown to be realised, before making major decisions about where to invest. This will be particularly important as employers make decisions in the coming months about future working patterns.”

 

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