Data from the ARLA Members’ Survey of the private rented sector, covering the first quarter of 2013, together with their Survey of Residential Investment Landlords, March 2013, shows that tenants are staying in their properties for the joint-longest period they have ever recorded.
Tenants are now staying in their properties for an average of 20 months, up from 19 months in Q1 2012. This indicates stagnation in the private rented sector, with the imbalance of housing supply and demand creating a battleground of fierce competition for housing. This is worrying for many tenants, who will then choose to remain where they are for safety, which in turn reduces the number of vacancies on the market.
More than half of ARLA agents (56.9%) reported seeing more tenants looking for homes than they had properties available. Furthermore, ARLA’s figures show a rapid fall in the number of letting agents reporting an increase in properties coming onto the market because they can’t be sold, dropping from 42% from the final quarter of last year, to 29% in the first quarter of this year.
Ian Potter, Managing Director of ARLA, said, “Our data suggested that tenants are increasingly sitting tight in their property and either reluctant, or unable to move. This stagnation means fewer and fewer properties are freed up.
“We know that many tenants renting with ARLA member agents are ‘frustrated first time buyers’ so it will be interesting to see if the recently announced Government initiatives such as ‘Help to Buy’ will impact upon these numbers.”
All of this has led to growing unease among tenants, out of which has sprung private tenant groups, who have begun to protest.
Heather Kennedy, of campaign group Digs, said, “We are calling on private renters like us to stand up and say we’ve had enough.
“For too long, tenants have been invisible as the need for landlords and agents to make profit has been put above the basic need for people to have a decent, secure home.
“Our message to letting agents is that private tenants have had enough. Right across the country private tenants groups are springing up, demanding an end to the destructive impact of letting agents on the housing market.”
But it is the market conditions, not profiteering landlords and agents, that dictate the rental costs. Salary freezes in the rough economic climate have reduced the ability of many private renters to become home owners, which also adds to the frustration. If the current trends continue, landlords and agents may well be in for a hard time as they become an easy target for blame.
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