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Rental demand and stock levels drop sharply

Demand for rental properties and the supply of rental stock have dropped significantly year-on-year across the majority of UK cities and London Boroughs, as the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and the precautions implemented by the government prevents many tenants from moving home, new data shows. 

When comparing current levels of rental stock to this time last year, the latest research by lettings management platform, Howsy, shows that there has been a decline of 12% across the UK’s major cities, while in London this drop is more pronounced with 20% less rental properties now on the market.  

Belfast (-57%), Cambridge (-36%) and Newport (-27%) have seen the largest declines, although Nottingham and London also place in the top five. However, Edinburgh, Swansea, Leicester, Sheffield, Leeds, Southampton and Plymouth have all seen more rental homes hit the market.  

In London, all areas but the City of London have seen a drop in property stock hitting the market, with Barnet the worst hit with a drop of 31%, followed by Croydon (-23%) and Ealing (-19%).

There has been a drop in demand of 5% across 23 major UK cities and a fall of 3% across London as the Coronavirus pandemic brings an unseasonal market freeze.  

Every city in the list has seen a decline, except for Belfast where a huge reduction in stock levels has seen demand actually increase by 16% and Portsmouth and Newcastle where demand remains flat with no annual change. 

The largest declines where the UK’s major cities are concerned has been in Oxford and Plymouth, where demand has dropped 11.3% since last year.

Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy, said: “The spread of the Coronavirus has clearly caused an immediate impact on rental demand and stock levels across cities which usually remain sought after amongst tenants.

“For market activity to have fallen so considerably across the board tells you just how much the market has been impacted by the pandemic, but while demand has waned somewhat on an annual basis, it is stock levels that have declined the most and there are still plenty of tenants looking for rental properties for those landlords still striving to provide them. 

“For these landlords, remaining visible on the market despite the wider landscape is the sensible approach to ensure any void periods are as short as possible and any financial loss is as limited as can be.  

“This can be done via online and hybrid agents in particular, who can list and rent your property without any physical interaction needed; so not only does your buy-to-let remain profitable, but there is no risk in doing so.”

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