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Warning of rocketing rents as buy to let investors quit the sector

A trade body says the private rental sector is facing a major crisis – more landlords are selling properties than buying them, while all the time demand is rising.

According to research by the Residential Landlords Association based on a survey of over 2,700 landlords, almost 25 per cent have seen the demand for private rented property increase over the last three months.

Some 41 per cent say there has been no change and just 15 per cent report that demand has fallen.

However at the same time the supply of private rented housing continues to fall.

The RLA’s research claims that over the next 12 months almost a third of landlords – 31 per cent – plan to sell at least one property with just 13 per cent saying they plan to buy at least one.

The association says the figures are supported by recent statistics from other organisations.

According to Rightmove, a shortage of private rented housing together with strong demand from tenants has led to record asking rents across most parts of Great Britain.

And the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned of an acceleration in rent increases over the next five years as a result of the demand for private rented housing outstripping supply.

RICS’ latest residential market survey warns: “Landlord instructions remain in decline. With demand still outstripping supply, rent expectations for the coming three months remain positive … Contributors are pencilling in rental growth of approximately two per cent over the coming 12 months. Significantly at the five-year horizon, the imbalance between demand and supply in the lettings market is expected to lead to an acceleration in rental growth, which is seen averaging to around three per cent per annum through to 2024.”

The RLA insists that the government strategy of recent years – to cut investment in private rented housing through various tax increases in an attempt to encourage more houses to be available for purchase by owner occupiers – is a failure.

As a result the association is calling on the government to adopt ‘pro-growth’ measures including scrapping the stamp duty levy on the purchase of additional properties where landlords add to the net overall supply of homes available, including bringing long term empty homes into use.

“Those who argue that a smaller private rented sector is good for tenants wanting to buy a home are plain wrong” according to RLA policy director David Smith.

“The government’s policies are choking off the supply of homes to rent whilst demand remains strong. This is only making life more difficult and potentially more expensive for those looking for somewhere to live. Without an urgent change of course and the introduction of pro-growth policies the situation will only become worse.”

The RLA represents some 50,000 landlords nationwide, with a combined portfolio of over a quarter of a million properties.

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