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Tenants staying put in record numbers as virus deters moves

Seven out of 10 tenancies that were due to end in March were renewed according to Hamptons International – the highest level recorded in any March since 2008.

Overall demand for rental accommodation across Britain decreased over the course of the month as lockdown measures were enforced.

The number of new applicants registering to rent a home fell by 31 per cent in March compared with the previous month – a time when applicant numbers tend to rise in normal years. However there are signs that applicant demand is starting to increase again, after bottoming out at the end of March.

Meanwhile the stock of homes available to rent increased in March.

There were 11 per cent more homes available to rent in March than in February, yet the supply of homes available to rent is still down year-on-year.  Wales and the Southern regions, including London, saw the biggest increase in the number of homes available to rent.

Some landlords who typically let their properties as short-lets decided to let their properties on a longer-term basis, and this has partly driven the increase in the number of homes available to rent.

An overall increase in supply combined with a reduction in demand suppressed rental growth on new lets in March.

“Once lockdown restrictions ease, we expect activity levels to rise. Renting offers more flexibility than buying a home, so as uncertainty rises, so too does the demand for rental homes” explains Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International.

She continues: “But although demand for rental accommodation is set to increase, and there are already signs of it picking back up again, the longer-term economic damage to people’s jobs and incomes means that rents on newly let properties are likely to fall between two and five per cent this year.”

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