Lockdown break-ups, job losses and urgent relocations have all boosted rental demand by 22% compared to last year, releasing two months of pent-up tension into the lettings market, Rightmove has claimed.
Supply isn’t keeping up with lettings demand though, prompting fears that the surge will drive up costs and leave some struggling to find homes; the number of new rental listings on Rightmove is 4% below 2019 levels, after dropping to 64% below during the week of 6th April. The South West saw the biggest surge in demand for new rental properties with a 34% increase compared to last year.
Rightmove’s housing expert Miles Shipside (left) says landlords are quitting the market due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty over tenants being able to afford rent, while more people bidding for fewer properties will push up the prices of rented accommodation.
“They [landlords] are going to pick those with the best references and who can move in immediately. Those whose credit record is not the best tend to lose out,” Shipside says.
Many people have been left with an immediate housing need as a result of the pandemic, he adds, as the sector also copes with a backlog of people who’ve had to cancel planned moves during lockdown.
“Where some people have enjoyed lockdown, others’ relationships haven’t survived it and this has had knock-on consequences. Effectively, we have two months of pent-up demand that needs to be satisfied.”
Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association (left), says: “Our own research shows that 29% of landlords expect to face some level of financial hardship as a result of the virus. Given this, it’s not surprising that many will be considering if they have a future in the rental market. That’s why we are calling for further action by the Government to give confidence to tenants and landlords that rents can continue to be paid in full.”