March Sees Rental Sector Remain Robust

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The buy to let sector remained robust in March as the number of prospective tenants rose.

ARLA Propertymark’s March Private Rented Sector (PRS) report found that the number of prospective tenants per member branch increased by 8 per cent during March. In February, each agent had 61 prospective tenants on average on their books. This is in comparison to 66 per cent in March. This return to positive growth follows a sizeable increase in January when the number of tenants registered per branch jumped to 70.

There was also a growth in rental supply recorded. The number of rental properties letting agents managed showed marginal growth in March from 175 in February to 179 per branch. This showed slight decline year on year as in March 2017 agents managed 183 properties on average.

However, there is bad news for tenants. The number of renters experiencing rent rises increased to 23 per cent in March, marking the highest level seen since September 2017 when 27 per cent of landlords inflated rent costs for tenants. However, this figure is down year on year. During March 2017 25 per cent of tenants saw rents rise. 32 per cent were subject to rent rises during March 2016 and 2015.

ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive, David Cox, said: ‘This month’s results very much show a ‘business as usual’ period for the private rented sector, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Supply is still too low and almost a quarter of tenants are experiencing rent hikes every month as landlords try to recoup the costs lost trying to keep on top of all the recent legislative changes – including the recent energy efficiency deadline. For the last two decades, successive Governments have passed significant amounts of complex legislation for landlords, none of which have been properly policed or adequately enforced – but most of which cost decent landlords a lot of money.’ 

He continued: ‘This is why we’re so supportive of the Government’s proposals to crack down on rogue agents, and more recently, plans to confiscate properties from criminal landlords. The announcements mark a sensible shift towards focusing on the root cause of the issues affecting the sector, rather than trying to find solutions to individual problems. This, coupled with greater rental stock is the key to fixing Britain’s broken rental sector.’