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‘Worrying picture’ for renters as stampede of landlords sell up

Written by: Samantha Downes
The number of properties available to rent through letting agents in March halved between 2019 and 2022.

In those three years, 84% of landlords who removed their property from the rental market did so to sell it.

Over half of the rental properties sold in March this year alone did not return to the private rented market, according to trade body, Propertymark. The rest are transferring to owner-occupier dwellings, it said.

Its survey of 443 agents, working across 4,000 branches in the UK, “was a clear indication of the rate at which the private rented market had been shrinking”.

It found the UK average number of properties available to rent per branch decreased from 30.4 to just 15.6 between March 2019 and March 2022.

Nathan Emerson, chief executive at Propertymark, said its research presented a “worrying picture” for private tenants as stock has been diminishing and they are having to chase fewer properties at elevated rents.

“A lack of property is the root cause for rent increases and rising figures on social housing lists,” he said.

As such, Emerson said more needed to be done to support the private rented sector.

He said: “We know from our qualitative research that the most common reasons for landlords to choose to sell their properties and no longer provide homes are around risk, finances and viability.

“Landlords and letting agents have been the subject of extreme legislation changes as the UK government tries to improve the sector. However, without a middle ground, these changes are actually proving detrimental to those they are supposed to protect.

“Sadly, we do not see this improving as the sector braces itself for more changes within the anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill and upcoming energy efficiency targets.”

Rental market ‘brutal’

Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, said the rental market was brutal for tenants and landlords.

He said: “If we think sale prices are rocketing, rents are going up even faster due to such acute supply issues. With the impending changes over the next few years around minimum EPC ratings for rental properties, there is a ticking time bomb of 3.5 million properties not at those new minimum standards, which will only make supply shorter without targeted government support.

“The end goal of getting to net zero is absolutely the right thing to do but as with most things with the current government, the detail and support in how to get there without causing a great degree of difficulty for those concerned is lacking.”

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