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160,000 rented homes 'disappear' from rental market

rented properties

At least 163,000 privately rented properties disappeared from the market between 2019 and the end of 2023 as the number of landlords selling up outstripped purchases.

According to new data from Hamptons, the sector has lost another 6,390 properties so far this year, after 23,740 purchases were made but 30,130 sales went through. It reports that there were 40% fewer rental homes on the market last year compared to April 2019; last year, 140,000 sales were made, while landlords bought 100,000 homes.

It reports that, as a percentage of all homes bought and sold in Great Britain, buy-to-let landlords sold 13% and bought 9% last month - the lowest number of purchases as a percentage since May 2020. This compares to 1% and 16% respectively when Hamptons started collating the figures back in January 2010.

Stock fall

Although year-on-year rental stock was up 28%, the rate of growth has slowed, having peaked at 34% in January 2024. These figures also do not include properties added to the market by institutional build-to-rent investors. However, Hamptons says this was not enough to stem the overall fall in rental stock.

Separate data from Rightmove has found that 50,000 rental properties are needed to bring the supply of rental homes back to pre-pandemic levels.

The National Residential Landlords Association has long been warning that landlords selling up is the biggest challenge renters face.


Chief executive Ben Beadle (pictured) says: “The only answer is to ensure responsible landlords have the confidence to stay in the market and sustain tenancies.

"More broadly, all parties need to accept widespread calls for policies to boost supply in the private rented sector.”

Letting agency Knight Frank agrees, pinning fast-rising rents on landlords leaving the market. Tom Bill, its head of UK residential research, says:Rents have been kept high by low supply, which is the result of landlords selling up in recent years due to the tougher regulatory landscape.

"As the election approaches and both parties weigh up changes to the rental market, they should consider how the immutable laws of supply and demand keep rents affordable for tenants.”


A Government minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Swinburne (pictured), recently rejected assertions like this, telling fellow Peers debating the looming Renters (Reform) Bill that: "There is no evidence to suggest that a fairer private rental sector for tenants and landlords will lead to a reduction in supply.

"The statistics I have from the department [of housing] suggest that the sector doubled in size from 2004, peaking in 2016, and has remained roughly stable since then; we will continue to monitor the impacts."


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