Letting agency Belvoir has commissioned a detailed Pandemic Rental Report for 2020 and the first two quarters of 2021 based on its own landlords. This is what the report can tell us about how the market was affected during lockdown and how it’s recovering.
Average rent took a small dip but house rental trends are on the up
Belvoir reports that average monthly rent in the UK in 2019 was £818, £810 in 2020 and £815 in 2021 so far. Flats and individual rooms throughout the country generally fell or saw no change while house rental prices rose, even during lockdown. Demand is now on the up and Belvoir reports that some areas are actively looking for new tenants because there’s such a shortage.
The proportion of landlords selling up has returned to normal
Most of Belvoir’s offices saw a small number of landlords choosing to sell during lockdown – 90% of offices reported just three cases. When the lockdown eased the number of sales returned to pre-pandemic numbers, and most offices reported 6-10 landlords choosing to purchase more buy-to-let property, so the uncertainty of lockdown clearly hasn’t led to landlords leaving the rental market and selling their properties.
Rent arrears were a ‘blip’ during the pandemic
The pandemic presented a lot of financial difficulties for many, which resulted in an increase in the number of tenants in rent arrears. Encouragingly, Belvoir say the number of tenants in arrears and evictions has returned to pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019, when most Belvoir offices rarely evicted any tenants at all.
Void periods are shorter in 2021 so far
During 2020 the time it took to let a property was 1-2 weeks on average. In 2021, the proportion of properties taking more than 2 weeks to let fell dramatically and the proportion of properties taking less than 1 week to let rose.
Tenancy length hasn’t seen much of a change
The majority of tenants were understandably not moving around during the lockdown and so Belvoir reports a decrease in the number of tenancies lasting less than a year. The majority of tenancies are still 13-18 months and 19-24 months in length but the number of short tenancies are returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, Belvoir’s report demonstrates that the buy-to-let market has stayed strong, with landlords still seeing high monthly rents on average and reliable tenancies. The market saw some inevitable changes in 2020 but the downturn hasn’t continued into 2021.
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