Letting agency chain forecasts big rise in 'lifestyle' tenants

Agency chain haart expects to see a dramatic rise in the number of people renting in the UK over the next 12 months.


Haart is predicting a double-digit increase in the number of people who will choose to become ‘professional tenants’ and opt to rent rather than buy over the next few years. 


This is borne out by the volume of applicants that it is seeing registering with its 50-plus strong branch network, up over 10% in the last three months, and forecast to grow by a similar amount over the remainder of 2011 and well into 2012.


Andrew Benn, MD of haart Residential Lettings, said: “We are seeing a real culture change in the UK towards letting, with more people than ever before prepared to make a lifestyle choice and rent.

“And this isn’t just restricted to people between the ages of 18-30. We’re finding people well into their 30s and sometimes beyond opting to go down this route, particularly in London and the South-East.


“This isn’t to say that they don’t want to buy their own home. It is more that with the continued economic uncertainty, they are delaying that decision, and the associated long-term financial commitment of a mortgage, until there is greater certainty in the country.”


The trend towards renting has also increased pressure on the availability of property, with some haart lettings branches seeing as many as ten potential applicants chasing every home.

It is also reflected in the increase in inquiries from prospective landlords looking at buy-to-let as an investment opportunity, particularly with annual yields of between 5-10% per annum achievable in some parts of the country.


However, Andrew Benn doesn’t foresee average residential rental prices climbing much higher, particularly given that in some areas, such as London, rents now account for 40% of people’s annual income. 


He said: “We are likely to see a rise in prices in 2012, but nothing like the levels we’ve experienced in 2011. We are forecasting relatively modest increases, especially outside of London, as the market settles back down to something akin to normality after an unpredictable few months.


“But it is clear that the days of seeing renting as a short-term fix is over.

“Today, renting is viewed very much as a lifestyle choice, with many people making a conscious decision to rent for the medium to long term, and in some instances for life, as we see on the Continent.”