At HOP, we work extensively in the private rental sector and have done so for the last decade. We work closely with landlords and currently manage over 2,000 tenants across Leeds – that’s a lot of customers!
It is fair to say 2020 has been challenging for everyone. We know, from our own experience, that many landlords and tenants have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it has been interesting to review some of the recent research looking at the impact it has had on our sector.
How Landlords have been affected by COVID-19
In a survey conducted by YouGov for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), 22% of private landlords admitted to losing rental income due to COVID-19. In fact, 19% of respondents said they lost up to half of their usual rental income and 3% had lost more than of their rental income.
NRLA studies suggest the average loss for landlords was between £751 and £1,000. Applying this figure across the industry suggests that private landlords in England have lost between £328m and £437m due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Landlords are often portrayed as incredibly wealthy in the media, yet 61% of landlords interviewed only had one rental property in their portfolio and of these 34% are retired. Therefore, rental income represents all or a significant part of their pension.
Ben Beadle is the Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, and he said; “Where COVID-19 has caused difficulties for tenants, the vast majority of landlords have reached agreements with them to avoid problems. That said, most landlords are not property tycoons and cannot be expected to go indefinitely without any or only part of the rent they are owed.”
Ben continued by saying; “To date there has been no direct financial support for the rental market, with individual landlords unable to access small business grants or bounce back loans. The furlough scheme is due to end, benefits do not cover average rents in any given area and the mortgage deferral scheme only builds up the amount landlords have to pay for the remainder of the term of their mortgage. The Government needs to step in and ensure tenants and landlords in England have the same level of support being provided in Scotland and Wales to pay off rent arrears and sustain tenancies.”
How tenants have been affected by COVID-19
According to research carried out by YouGov, one in 20 (5%) of tenants have been forced to move due to the pandemic since March 2020, mostly down to difficulties maintaining rent payments.
21% of those that moved were younger people, between the ages of 18 and 24 – many of whom returned to live with their parents.
11% of all renters tenants surveyed have received financial support from their parents, guardian or other family members and 6% have borrowed money from family or friends to be able to meet their monthly rental payments.
Coping in Lockdown
When the country first went into Lockdown back in March of this year, the entire property market was put on hold – but that didn’t mean that everything stopped altogether. Although our branches were closed, at HOP, we worked remotely to support our tenants and landlords throughout the lockdown period, making the most of technology to stay in touch. Our brilliant staff were quick to adapt and were quite ingenious with their solutions – we even managed to talk a tenant through some simple maintenance diagnosis over a video chat!
How the market is looking now
The Government recognises the importance of the property market as shown by its committent to the ‘Stamp Duty Holiday’ and allowing it to remain open throughout the Second National Lockdown.
We have seen huge demand for rental properties and the fact is that people still want to move. Tenants are still looking for, and signing for, new homes.
It was difficult to predict how the launch of the HMO Lettings Season would go this year, but we are seeing huge demand for properties from students looking to secure their properties for 2021. In fact, we have actually experienced our busiest November ever in terms of lets!
The outlook for our Landlords has – in the most part – has been positive as across the board we are seeing very low void periods and an appetite for more properties.
There has been an uplift in demand for properties outside of the city centre and ones with more outdoor space, as tenants re-prioritise their requirements in a property post-lockdown.
Our interactive Virtual Tours have been key to securing so many tenants in this market. This clever technology allows tenants to safely explore properties online. It also means that, even with students heading back for Christmas, we can continue to offer Online Viewings wherever they are.
After a very challenging year, we look forward to a positive 2021. If you are a looking for experienced support from award-winning lettings professionals in Leeds, please contact the Lettings Team at HOP.
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