The London rental market – August 2020

The London rental market remains challenging but we are starting to receive greater numbers of enquiries from applicants looking to move home.  Most of these applicants are professionals already living in London and wishing to move locally. But we have seen a dramatic drop in enquiries for properties in the city district as 90% of the workforce continue to work from home.  At the moment, it is very hard to predict when there will be a shift. The relocation market is also impacted by this but we are starting to see a trickle of enquiries coming through for corporates who are moving to the UK later in the year.

In other parts of London, when lockdown first started to ease in June, we saw a real bounce-back in rental enquiries but many applicants, while interested in viewing properties, did not yet feel ready to make the move.  Now some level of confidence has returned and it’s clear that tenants can move safely, they are looking to move quite soon and they have a number of reasons for doing this.

Some are viewing the current situation as an opportunity to upgrade and move to a higher specification property with more space (both inside and out), for a similar rent to what they are currently paying.  Others are looking to cut their accommodation costs by moving to a smaller property.  Some are looking to do both so it’s a real mixed bag at the moment.   So, value and quality are at the top of these applicants’ wish lists right now and they have plenty of choice so landlords must be flexible.  Price points will be the driving force behind finding a tenant for a property and rental accommodation must be accurately priced in line with current market conditions which have clearly changed over the last few months.  Now is a good time to get in touch with us if your property is sticking or if you haven’t had a recent rent appraisal.

2 bed flat to rent in Canary Wharf

We have good availability of stock and have been receiving new instructions daily.  This is because, as well as having local branches throughout London, we have experienced branch managers who have developed good working relationships with landlords over the years.  These landlords are turning to us to help steer them through this difficult time as they trust our advice and years of experience.  And we are confident that this difficult situation will ease – after all, a third of Londoners now rent and they all need a roof over their head!  Of course, flexibility is key right now and a landlord’s priority should be to keep their property tenanted, even if that means accepting a lower rent than they had expected.

The rental market is changing almost day by day at the moment and we are keeping you updated regularly with our Property Market blogs.  But if you would like to talk to your local Benham & Reeves manager about market conditions in your area, please do not hesitate to get in touch with them via our Contact page.

Rental demand from international students

Clearly, the pandemic is having a huge impact on demand from international students and the numbers we are seeing right now are down.  At the moment there has been little guidance from London universities as to how the next academic year will progress.  This would normally be our busiest time of the year and, while we are starting to see some enquiries from international students planning to move to London soon, but the numbers are significantly less than last year.  International students already studying and living in London are making enquiries about moving to new rental properties, and like other applicants, are requesting more affordable properties which will allow them to save money. A fast Broadband connection is also high on their wish-lists.

Rental demand across our 16 London lettings branches

The City and East London

2 bed to rent at One Blackfriars,SE1

Our City and East London branches have reported an upturn in enquiries from students over the last couple of weeks and we will keep you informed as to how this develops.  Generally, we are expecting demand across east London to increase throughout August, September and October and are definitely seeing renewed interest from applicants.   We have also started to see a few enquiries from relocation agents recently.  Many applicants are reassessing their priorities, with more space and excellent broadband speeds a priority, to allow them to work from home.

With stock levels high though, rents are softening in the City, Wapping and Canary Wharf.  Many providers of short let rental accommodation in the City and Canary Wharf have decided to let their properties on a long-let basis instead so there is a surplus of rental accommodation which is adding to the problem.  It is therefore essential for landlords to negotiate and remain flexible when discussing terms with potential tenants.

One exception to this is Surrey Quays where rents have remained stable.  The development is extremely popular and already offered good value to renters – there is less availability here so stock has held its value.

Central London

In central London, staff at our Hyde Park, Kensington and Knightsbridge branches are receiving a lot of enquiries, with many physical viewings taking place, but most applicants are looking for a good deal and do expect landlords to negotiate – they will look elsewhere if they cannot negotiate a better deal.   They may take up to two weeks to decide on a property while they compare it to others that are similar.  Lower priced apartments (£200 – £280 per week) are letting most quickly while two bed apartments that can be shared by two professionals to reduce costs (£550 – £800 per week) are also letting well.

Our branches in central London have started to receive a few enquiries from students, many of whom are already living in London and some from relocation agents who are searching for corporate tenants from the US, Australia and South East Asia – clearly though the numbers are nothing like as high as usual.

West London

3 bed to rent at Dickens Yard, Ealing

In West London, properties are letting in popular developments such as Dickens Yard Ealing and Kew Bridge Brentford and we are picking up new instructions too.   We have been finding homes for several Japanese professionals already living in London and who have been looking to move home, perhaps because their current apartment is too small and in one case because the applicant was moving from Scotland to London.  We are also working with several Japanese professionals who are arriving in London over the next couple of weeks and looking for high spec rental accommodation in West London.   At Fulham Reach in Hammersmith, rental demand is slowly starting to pick up with affordably priced one bed flats (£475 – £500 per week) letting most quickly.  Again accurate pricing is essential to ensure a flat lets as quickly as possible.

North & North West London

The rental market in Hampstead and Highgate remains slow and there is quite a shortage of stock here as many tenants are choosing to stay in their current property rather than move. If you have a property in these areas and are experiencing a void period, it could be a good time to freshen up the property and we can advise if you need help with fresh furnishings or basic refurbishment.

Our Beaufort Park Colindale branch is seeing rental demand improve after a sluggish few months because of Covid-19. Much of the demand at the moment is from international students and this has yet to pick up.  During the summer months, we would usually have waiting lists for smaller units and we expect the situation will become clearer over the next few weeks.

If you have a property becoming available soon for rental and would like an up to date appraisal of what rent you can expect, why not ask us for a valuation. Or talk to one of our branches. Contact us.

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About the Author

For 35 years Anita has been the driving force behind Benham and Reeves’ success as it has grown from a single branch in Hampstead, to one of central London’s oldest, independently owned sales, letting and property management companies. Anita's vision has driven the expansion of the business to offer a complete range of property investment related services from under one roof, from purchase to handover, furnishings and/or refurbishment to lettings and property management. Read more about Anita Mehra here - Read full profile

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