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Spike in landlord exodus to lead to ‘record rents’ and ‘fewer homes to choose from’

Almost a quarter of landlords are planning to sell at least one property from their existing buy-to-let portfolio, new research from Rightmove shows. 

Fresh data from the property website reveals that the number of available properties to rent is plummeting at an alarming rate, particularly in Greater London, and this is placing upward pressure on rents.

Rents have already risen by 4% in the Greater London area over the last 12 months, according to Rightmove, with further growth anticipated as a result of the widening supply-demand imbalance in the private rental market in the capital.

Nationally, the number of available rental properties is 13% under the previous low recorded in the third quarter of 2015, and 24% down in London, as tax changes deter new and existing landlords. 

A shortage of new rental stock to choose from, coupled with strong demand from tenants, has led to record asking rents in all areas across Great Britain except Scotland and the North East. 

Asking rents outside London are at a peak of £828 per calendar month (pcm), seeing the biggest quarterly jump in rents at this time of year since 2015. 

In London, rents are at a record of £2,104pcm, which is the greatest quarterly jump at this time of year since the property website started recording this data. 

Outside London, there has been an annual rate of growth of 3.2%, which is the highest since 2016, and an annual rate of 5.6% in the capital.

Tax and regulatory changes are discouraging landlords from expanding their portfolios, but not everybody is deterred from investing in the buy-to-let sector. 

Almost a third - 30% - of those surveyed are still planning to increase their portfolio, with the majority of those saying that property still delivers better returns than other investments.

Rightmove’s commercial director, Miles Shipside, said: “There are a number of forces at play in the current rental market, all leading to record rents for tenants and fewer homes to choose from, yet demand remains strong. 

“Worryingly for tenants there are signs that the stock shortage may worsen if some landlords follow through with their plans to sell up, though an increase in plans for build to rent properties may help to fill some of the gap. 

“The overall feeling among those landlords who are planning to exit the market is one of frustration with many telling us that the tax changes mean it’s no longer financially attractive to keep their properties.

“Early data seems to point to some of the income lost through the removal of tenant fees being passed on to the tenant in higher rents, but it should still work out cheaper than paying the upfront admin fees as long as stock doesn’t constrict and rents don’t rise too much. What we really need now is more properties available to rent. 

“Rising rents may tempt some landlords back in, but momentum is currently to downsize portfolios in spite of the prospect of increasing yields.”

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