There has been a significant increase in the number of landlords and homeowners switching from short-term lets to longer rentals.
Across the UK there has been a 20% drop in people looking for rooms over the last week due primarily to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to SpareRoom.
With a possible countrywide lock down rapidly approaching, the flatsharing website reports that people with rooms to rent are understandably keen to find tenants.
SpareRoom has seen a 15% increase in adverts from agents and a 12% uplift from landlords, just in the past two days. This is driven, in part, by landlords and homeowners switching from using short-term rental sites like Airbnb as tourism tanks and looking for longer term rents for their rooms.
With supply in some parts of the country currently outstripping demand, 18% of agents have reduced their asking rents in the past two weeks, while 11% of landlords have done the same, with some directly mentioning COVID-19 as the reason for this reduction.
With the growing concern about face to face contact SpareRoom has also seen a real trend over the last week of people moving towards video calls - getting to know each other and having a first view of the property this way.
Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom director, said: “Whenever there’s uncertainty people put off making big decisions, like moving house. We saw it during the confusion over Brexit and we’re seeing it in a much more marked way now. In contrast, people with rooms to fill are desperately hoping to get new tenants in before the country goes into lockdown.
“Although it’s still early days, we’re also seeing some interesting shifts in behavior on both sides. Following widespread cancellations, we’re seeing both landlords and homeowners moving from short term rents to looking for longer term security.
“Tenants are getting creative by using video calls to hold virtual viewings and interviews. The people you live with make a far bigger difference to you than the property itself, and video calls are a great way to get that all important first impression before deciding to go and see a property. It also minimises the need for travel and social contact so it’s a win-win.”