Latest research from leading lettings agency reveals record number of renters staying put and renegotiating lower rents during March, a trend that is likely to accelerating this month.

Over two thirds of tenants renewed their rental agreements during March and many negotiated lower rents as they stayed put to weather the Coronavirus crisis, a leading lettings index has revealed.

Estate agency Hamptons International says 70% of tenancies that were due to renew last month re-signed their contracts, the second highest proportion to do so since the company’s index began six years ago.

Tenants, aware of the economic problems the Coronavirus crisis was likely to create, have clearly been negotiating with existing and prospective landlords to reduce their outgoings during the year ahead.

Rent renewals

Renewed rents fell across three regions – the South East (-1.4%), the East (-0.4%) and Greater London which recorded the biggest year-on-year fall (-2.2%).

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Also, although the average rent of a newly let property increased to £980 pcm in March, up 1.2% year-on-year, the rate of rental growth more than halved since February, when rents rose 3.3% year-on-year.

And as lockdown measures were enforced during March the number of new applicants registering to rent a home fell by a third compared with the same period in 2019.

“Once lockdown restrictions ease, we expect activity levels to rise. Renting offers more flexibility than buying a home, so as uncertainty rises, so too does the demand for rental homes,” says Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research at Hamptons International.

“But although demand for rental accommodation is set to increase, and there are already signs of it picking back up again, the longer-term economic damage to people’s jobs and incomes means that rents on newly let properties are likely to fall between 2% and 5% this year.”

Read advice about tenancy agreements.

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