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Rental market slows in February as supply crunch continues

The UK’s rental market showed signs of weakness last month, as the number of homes to let fell as uncertainty and a lack of supply restricted choice for potential renters.

The latest Property Activity Index from Agency Express shows that there were lower levels of activity in the private rented market in February.

Across the UK, the number of new listing ‘to let’ sat at -13.8%, marking the largest month-on-month decline for February since the index’s first records in 2012. 

The data appears consistent with the Council of Mortgage Lenders director general Paul Smee’s view that buy-to-let property purchase activity "continues to be weak"

But properties ‘let’ during the period did rise, sitting at 3.4%. However, looking back over the Index’s historical data, records show figures in previous years were more robust, sitting at 4.5% in 2016 and 5.5% in 2015. 

Looking at performance across the UK, only two of the 12 regions recorded by the Property Activity Index reported increases in new listings ‘to let’, while five regions reported increases in properties ‘let’. 

Properties ‘To Let’
•    East Midlands 10%
•    West Midlands 3%

Properties ‘Let By’
•    South East 40.2%
•    West Midlands 7.6%
•    Scotland 6.3%

The West Midlands was the only region in this month’s index to record increases in both new listings at 7.6% and properties ‘let’ at 3%.

The largest decline in this month’s Index was recorded in East Anglia. Figures for new listing ‘for sale’ dropped to sit at -25.5%.

Stephen Watson, managing director of Agency Express, said: “The Property Activity Index historically shows us a drop in figures throughout February. However, this month we have seen a greater fall than in years previous, an impact of the buy-to-let changes which will undoubtedly affect the market ongoing.” 

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