Lockdown sees rental stock levels drop across the vast majority of UK cities

Property Reporter
23rd April 2020
To Let 690

Figures released by lettings management platform, Howsy, have highlighted that the stock available to meet rental demand has fallen year on year across the majority of UK cities and London Boroughs and has been compounded by the ongoing lockdown measures.

The firm gauged tenant demand across each city based on rental listings listed across each of the major property portals, looking at the number of homes with a let already agreed as a percentage of total properties listed. Howsy also looked at total listings on the market and how this had changed to see what impact the pandemic has had on the supply side of the market.

When comparing current levels of rental stock to this time last year, 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 decline in property stock hitting the market, with Barnet the worst hit with a drop of -31%, followed by Croydon (-23%) and Ealing (-19%).

Tenant demand

When comparing tenant demand to this time last year, there has been a drop of -5% across 23 major UK cities and by -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, while in London, just eight London boroughs have seen an increase in demand. 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. In London, the City of London has seen rental demand reduce by -10% year on year, while Southwark and Tower Hamlets are also down -8%.

Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy, commented: “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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