Ome: Lockdown rental shortage may see rents and deposits climb

Jessica Bird

May 4, 2020

tenancy deposit

Research by rental deposit replacement scheme Ome has found that a lockdown reduction in rental stock entering the market could result in higher rent and deposit costs for UK tenants.

Ome investigated the proportion of buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage loans approved over the last five years as a percentage of all loans.

Figures from the Financial Conduct Authority show the number of landlords entering the market with new stock has declined every year since 2015, with an average annual drop of 1%.

The value of the BTL market has also diminished at the same average annual rate, and is now worth £35,661 compared to £37,424 in 2015.

Despite the declining levels of stock entering the market, demand has been growing, and the average UK rent has climbed an average of 4% each year since 2015.

Average rent is now £743 per month, compared to £627 in 2015.

The average cost of a rental deposit has also increased at an average rate of 3% each year over the last five years.

If these increase rates continue, average rents could reach £776 per month, while average deposits could go up to £900.

However, Ome has predicted that any lasting reduction in rental stock due to the current pandemic could result in even higher increases.

Matthew Hooker, co-founder of Ome, said: “Through no fault of their own, agents and landlords are facing a very tough few months with some tenants unable to pay their rent and some landlords facing much longer void periods due to a drop in market activity.

“The buy-to-let market has already seen a notable decline in appetite following increases to stamp duty and changes to tax relief, with the number of buy to let mortgages declining steadily since 2016.

“It is no coincidence that rents have also climbed rapidly during this time.

“As a result of these latest market developments, we could see many decide to exit the sector, or opting to refrain from a buy to let investment for the foreseeable future at least.

“This further reduction in stock would have grave implications for the nation’s tenants who have already seen the cost of renting increase due to an imbalance between demand and supply.

“The industry has already predicted an increase in rental costs due to the ban on tenant fees, but with even less stock now likely to be available, this increase in rent and the upfront deposit required to secure a property could be far higher than predicted.

“Of course, there are things you can do to lessen the impact of this increase before it materialises.

“Looking for and securing a property now can be easily done online with the view of moving post lockdown when it is safe to do so.

“Opting for a deposit replacement scheme can also alleviate some of the upfront cost and essentially pay for your first month’s rent at the same time.”

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