Dip in number of rental properties could lead to supply crisis

Supply of rental properties has fallen to its lowest point in almost two years, according to a new report.

ARLA Propertymark's February Private Rented Sector Report reveals that the number of rental properties letting agents managed fell by five per cent in February, with 175 on average per branch compared to 184 in January. Supply has not been this low since May 2016, when it stood at 171.

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From a year on year perspective, this figure is low. In February 2017, letting agents managed 183 on average per branch, 176 on average in February 2016 and 184 on average per branch in February 2015.

Demand for rental accommodation also dipped in February. On average, letting agents registered 61 prospective tenants per branch in February, compared to 70 in January, a 13 per cent decrease. This indicates that the New Year rush for new homes is now over.

One in five (20 per cent) tenants experienced rent hikes February, compared to 19 per cent in January. This figure is down year on year; In February 2017, 25 per cent of tenants had their rents increased, 29 per cent were subject to rent rises in February 2016 and 31% experienced hikes in February 2015.

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, said: “This month’s results continue to show a drop in the supply of rental properties and this is no surprise; the minimum energy efficiency standards come into effect in April meaning all rental properties must be EPC rated E or above.

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"The dip in supply indicates that landlords are cutting it fine and taking their properties off the market to make the necessary changes before the deadline – but we could also see up to 300,000 properties taken off the market after the deadline passes on Sunday because they don’t reach the minimum requirements.

"This is also likely to push rent costs up as competition heats up among prospective tenants. We could have a supply crisis on our hands and for landlords who haven’t yet started to upgrade their properties, now is the time to act and fast.”

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