Homelet’s Rental Index reveals that, as expected, Brexit uncertainty is pushing up demand for rental properties.
Rents rose in all 12 of the UK’s regions in February. The average UK rent was up 3.8% compared to the same month last year at £940 pcm. In London, rents rose even faster, at 5%, with average rents hitting £1,599pcm.
The biggest rise of all was in the Southwest, where rents were up 7.7%.
Some of the smaller rises were to be found in Northern Ireland (+1.1%) and the East Midlands (1.0%). Rightmove’s Commercial Director and Housing Market Analyst Miles Shipside confirms the upward trend: ”We forecast that average asking rents will continue to slowly strengthen further in 2019, by perhaps 3% outside London. In the capital there are no signs of an increase in buy-to-let activity, which may lead to asking rents growing further by around 4%.” In Marylebone, average rents have now reached £4,997pcm. The average one bed flat is around £2,697, a 2 bed one £4,168 and a 3 bed house £9,419 (source Zoopla). In other news, there is growing pressure for longer tenancy agreements.
At the recent RLA (Residential Landlords Association) annual conference, Heather Wheeler (Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing), indicated her department was looking into the matter as part of a package of reforms which include the potential introduction of an industry regulator. David Smith, policy director for the RLA, gave the idea a cautious welcome, saying, “Tenants are on average living in their private rented properties for over four years. However, the RLA recognises the growing number of families living in the sector is increasing calls for greater security for tenants.” Although he does add, “These should be matched by establishing a dedicated housing court to ensure that landlords and tenants can get swift access to justice when something goes wrong in a longer tenancy agreement. This would provide the confidence needed to provide them.” To add to this legislative mix are the upcoming tenant fees ban (June 19), whose effects are yet to be seen, and the High Court’s recent overturning of the Government’s Right to Rent Legislation on the grounds it is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Government has been given the right to appeal but the policy will still be in force until that appeal is heard. And, from March 2020, landlords will have to comply with the Government’s new Fitness for Human Habitation rules. Under them, a rental property will have to be fit for human habitation at the beginning and for the duration of the tenancy. It will be based on the following criteria: • Repair • Stability • Freedom from damp • Internal arrangement • Natural lighting • Ventilation • Water supply • Drainage and sanitary conveniences • Facilities for storing/preparing/cooking of food and disposal of waste water