The London rental market – March 2021

While lockdown continues in London and the rest of England, there is at last a light at the end of the tunnel. Just a few days ago UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan for re-opening the economy and indeed the whole country post lockdown. This is possible mainly due to the successful Covid 19 vaccination programme, which is happening much faster than originally anticipated. This means that all adults in the UK should be vaccinated by the end of July, a roll-out that is ahead of Europe and many other countries across the world, resulting in a renewed confidence and hope that we will soon be returning to a ‘type’ of normality.

So, although the last few weeks have seen rental demand in London a little slower than usual because of the current restrictions on travel and many still homeschooling their children and working from home, we expect demand to pick up as the staged end of lockdown approaches from March 8th.

But even in these difficult times, properties that are in good condition, well presented and accurately priced according to current market conditions, are letting well.

In fact, lettings transactions have been holding up better than we could have expected and we were surprisingly busy in 2020. Our own latest figures indicate that we let a similar number of properties in 2020 to 2019, although rents softened by 7% to 15%.

This success is in no small part due to the commitment and hard work of our staff and being able to keep all our branches open, with staff either working from home or, when in the office or conducting viewings, operating strictly within the new Covid 19 regulations.

And although there have been dips in demand during this challenging year, generally the outlook is now much more positive for London’s landlords.

If you missed our most recent webinar with celebrated UK journalist Graham Norwood, you can catch the broadcast still on our Webinars page. Graham provided a very insightful review of the property market and where he think its heading. Watch London Property an Unbiased View 2021

Brand new developments continue to attract renters

New stock is always sought-after by renters who love the look and feel of a shiny new apartment, as well as the excellent amenities they offer, so we’re not surprised that the new apartments at Millbrook Park in Mill Hill continue to let well. In fact, some are being snapped up in as little as 24 hours.

Apartments are also now completing at The Green Quarter, the new Berkeley residential development in the London Borough of Ealing. This development is set in 13 acres of parkland and only a short walk away from a Crossrail station (Crossrail is due to open in 2023 and will bring central London within a 17 minute commute) so we expect rental demand here to be very high.

In fact, we have already received our first new instruction here which we let immediately.

In anticipation of this growing demand, we are looking for more stock as we are already receiving further enquiries from professional tenants keen to rent an apartment at The Green Quarter and we are confident that we can achieve good rents for landlords.

Our new White City Living branch

We opened our new branch at White City Living in February and we have some excellent properties available here too. Apartments are finished to a very high spec and the development’s central location, close to Westfield London, means that demand has remained good throughout the pandemic. The apartments are a favourite with UK professionals as well as Japanese corporates who love living close to the Westfield shopping centre and the area’s large Japanese supermarket.

To hear further information about rentals at White City Living, you might like to watch our market update video

Rental demand from overseas professionals

We are expecting further good news when it comes to Japanese expats moving to London over the next couple of months. Our busiest time for relocating Japanese professionals is March and April and while we are not yet sure how this year will compare to usual, we have already been talking to several Japanese organisations who we work with regularly and they are telling us that they are now planning to relocate their staff to London again.

The 250 City Road development near Shoreditch is very popular with Japanese professionals and we found homes for many Japanese tenants here last year. Also top of the list for many expats living in London are Dickens Yard, Fulham Reach, Kew Bridge and London Dock. Sugar Quay, One Tower Bridge and Principal Tower are also very popular amongst Japanese professionals.

Another residential development seeing good demand is Beaufort Park with, in particular, BNO Passport Holders from Hong Kong looking to rent here. YouTube influencers have driven some of this demand, suggesting the development as a great place to live, with plenty of amenities aimed at Hong Kong expats. Tech companies such as Facebook and Google also continue to relocate their staff to London and we are busy finding homes for these tech professionals.

New property trends caused by Covid 19

We are now beginning to identify new trends in the rental market, caused by Covid 19, that we believe are here to stay, at least in part.

The pandemic has further highlighted the need for superfast broadband, as so many of us now work (or study) from home at least some of the time. There’s also increasing demand for more inside space – again caused by the need for at least one workspace at home, as well as outside space or at least proximity to a park.

We’re also seeing more tenants request a property that is professionally managed (approximately 65% of our rental properties are also professionally managed by us), so that they can be confident that any issues can be dealt with efficiently and quickly. This of course means that tenants do not have to rely on a landlord who may not live nearby and may not be able to sort out any problems as quickly as a professional property manager with teams of local professional contractors.

Make sure you achieve the best possible rent in the current market

While there have undoubtedly been ups and downs over the last year, one of the positive factors that we can take forward is that London’s professionals are still renting and are looking for homes that are well presented and offer good value – the same as they have always done.

But the property landscape continues to shift so it’s more important than ever to keep up-to-date with the latest market news.

If you have a rental property in London that is vacant, please contact your local Benham & Reeves branch where our staff will be happy to offer you a free rental valuation and advise you on securing a good tenant.

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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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