Time to rent slows down dramatically as social distancing impacts rental market

Although the number of properties rented out during the lockdown reduced dramatically, those that were rented during April took 25 days to find a tenant, latest research shows.

Properties took five days longer to rent last month than in April 2019 – with average rents on renewed tenancies down 1.1% to £925 pcm.

Lockdown measures led to a fall in rental demand, with more people staying put, says Hamptons International; its Lettings Index shows it took 29 days to rent the average home compared to just 18 days in April 2013 when the company’s records began. Wales was the slowest region at 34 days, followed by Yorkshire and Humber, the South East and North East – all 33 days.

The average time increased most in the South East (up 10 days), followed by Yorkshire and Humber (up nine days) and Wales (up seven days). The South West, which until last month had seen some of the strongest rental growth, was the speediest place to let a home at 25 days.

Demand for one-bedroom homes means these usually rent the fastest, however this changed last month when three-bedroom homes were snapped up quicker.

Rents on renewed tenancies fell for the second month in a row to £925 pcm, says Hamptons International. London (-3.2%) and the South East (-2.4%) were the only regions where renewed rents fell, while Scotland recorded the strongest annual rental growth (4.2%), followed by the North (2.7%) and Midlands (1.9%).

Demand dropped

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, says demand dropped because most tenants chose to stay put and extend their existing tenancies.

She says: “Rental growth continued to slow last month, with average rents on renewed tenancies falling for the second consecutive month. Uncertainty regarding household incomes has led to the fall in rents in London and the South East, where tenants’ incomes tend to be most stretched.”

Hamptons International adds that, given the changes to Government advice on home moving announced last week, it expects activity in the rental market to return quickly.

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