Demand for Rented Properties Reaches All-Time High, Says Report

A new report from Arla Propertymark shows that in July, the average letting agent had 97 prospective tenants – up from 79 in June.
August 27, 2020, 4:36pm
Housing Demand from Renters Reaches All-Time High in UK
Photo: Alamy. 

Renters in the UK searching for properties reached an all-time high in July, according to letting agent body Arla Propertymark.

According to in its “July Private Rented Sector” report, which surveyed 153 of its members, the number of prospective tenants rose in July, hitting the highest it had been in five years.

In July, the average letting agent had 97 prospective tenants, up from 79 in June. Before this, the highest number reported by letting agents was 88, in January 2020.

Across the country, Wales saw the highest demand from tenants, with 201 on average registered per branch. London saw the lowest demand from tenants, while the East Midlands was among the highest.

The survey also found that the number of prospective properties was at its highest in five years for the month of July, with 208 per branch. This was up from 200 in June, and topping the previous high of 172 in July 2017.

While many tenants are looking for new homes, few are able to negotiate rent reductions, according to Arla Propertymark, despite the global pandemic. In July, the number of renters able to negotiate reductions fell to 1.9 percent across the UK, after a high of 2.5 percent in May. In London, 5.2 percent of tenants successfully negotiated a rent decrease in July, as opposed to none in the North East.

A far higher percentage of tenants experienced rent increases, the report found. Thirty-nine percent of letting agents saw landlords increase rent in July, compared to 29 percent the previous month. This is still lower than the previous year, when 63 percent of agents saw rent increases.

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said that the demand for housing should be met with affordable and high-quality homes.

“High demand from tenants highlights the need to ensure that affordable, decent homes are available for all renters,” she said. “Generation Rent research conducted this month found that nearly half of tenants behind on rent due to the pandemic are searching for a new home, but the majority (59 percent) of these renters are unable to find one they can afford or a landlord who will accept them.”

“To make matters worse, the benefits system is failing renters,” she continued. “Housing benefit doesn’t cover the average rents, and our survey found that over 80 percent of renters who had applied for benefits since lockdown began had struggled to pay. While demand may be high, a shortage of affordable properties and a safety net that is not fit for purpose means many of those currently searching for properties will have little protection against homelessness.”