Private property rental market in UK buoyant as voids reach eight year lows

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Strong Rentals

It has fallen from 3.6 weeks to 3.2 weeks compared with the previous quarter, the latest figures from the Association of Residential Lettings Agent (ARLA) show.

The average number of new tenancies signed up compared to the preceding survey has also increased in line with seasonal trends. ‘The rental market is incredibly strong at the moment for those working within the industry,’ said Ian Potter, operations manager of ARLA.

Average void periods for rented residential properties are already short with nearly eight out of 10 ARLA member offices reporting averages of four weeks or less per year. The South East has experienced the lowest void period at just 2.9 weeks compared with 3.3 weeks for Central London and 3.4 weeks for the rest of the UK.

The average void period of the whole country is down quite sharply and is the third consecutive fall. Average voids have decreased in all three main geographical areas with the greatest decrease being for those outside London and the South East from 3.9 to 3.4 weeks.

Potter said that the rental market has made a dramatic recovery since the beginning of 2009 when void periods were close to an all-time high. ‘The fall in the last four quarters confirms that the trend has now turned firmly downwards again and the average for this quarter is the lowest since these surveys began nearly ten years ago,’ he explained.

David McMaster of Jordan’s McMaster Residential Lettings said demand in Norfolk is very high for all types of property, from studio apartments to substantial detached houses and it is driven by a shortage of new properties coming to the market. ‘Canny investors are starting to buy again but only in low quantities and the deluge of properties coming across from the sales market has certainly dried up significantly,’ he added.

In both Edinburgh and Glasgow demand for one and two bedroomed flats particularly cannot be met, said Fiona Docherty, managing director of Ryden Lettings. ‘The situation at present is so tight that the majority or properties are being let before the tenant moves out. Turnaround times for new tenancies are extremely tight at only a couple of days in many cases and that is only to allow time for essential maintenance and cleaning,’ she added.

With the possible exception of some of the larger towns in the area there is a shortage of rental property in Devon, according to Philip Keddie of Sunshine Rentals.  But in neighbouring Dorset many landlords are facing voids because they are reluctant to reduce the asking rent, said Jonathan Alsford, director of Realty Properties Solutions. ‘Slightly less rent is a lot better than no rent at all especially during the winter months,’ he added.

In Wolverhampton Sally Lawson, founder of Concentric Lettings, said they have experienced the highest ever volume of enquiries from tenants and the supply of landlords has substantially decreased, resulting in properties being let very quickly and in many cases multiple applications on some.

‘Quite a few of our landlords are discussing purchasing more properties as they recognise that the market is good for returns on investment and rental prospects. While many are struggling with gaining mortgages, this does appear to have improved slightly over the last couple of months and, we hope it will continue to increase over the coming months,’ she added.

‘The local market is extremely buoyant and we are experiencing record trading, with well presented properties in decent locations flying off the shelf. Void periods are generally only being experienced with poorly presented properties,’ said Jill Elkington of Hodgson Elkington in Lincoln.

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