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Tenants flee London as pandemic changes rental landscape

Private sector tenants are leaving London in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, changing the rental market fundamentally.

According to new research, landlords letting properties in London were the only ones in the country to report that tenant demand had fallen more than it increased.

A survey of National Residential Landlords Association members, conducted by the research consultancy BVA-BDRC, found that 56 per of landlords with properties in Central London saw tenant demand fall in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. 


Just 12 per cent reported that demand had increased.

In Outer London, 45 per cent of landlords reported demand having fallen, with 33 per cent saying it had increased.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle says: “The pandemic has seen a significant shift in where tenants want to rent, with the trend towards home working making inner cities, especially London, far less desirable.

“This poses significant challenges in determining where to invest to meet demand. 

“Investors will no doubt be waiting for the market to settle, and the full roadmap out of lockdown to be realised, before making major decisions about where to invest. This will be particularly important as employers make decisions in the coming months about future working patterns.”

Elsewhere, tenant demand was strongest in Wales, with 57 per cent of landlords renting property there having reported an increase over the same period, compared to just two per cent who registered a fall in demand. 

This was followed by landlords renting property in the South West, where 53 per cent reported an increase in demand, compared to 13 per cent who registered a fall. 

Overall, across England and Wales, 31 per cent of landlords reported tenant demand for properties had increased in the first quarter of 2021. This has recovered from the 14 per cent of landlords who reported tenant demand having increased in the second quarter of 2020 in the aftermath of the first lockdown. 

Nationally, whilst seven per cent of landlords had brought property in the first three months, the same proportion had sold property.

Central and Outer London continue to be the only regions where a significant proportion of landlords reported that rents are falling (46 per cent and 27 per cent respectively). 

Landlords with property in London were also more likely to have reduced rents across their own portfolio in 2020 (46 per cent reduced them in Central London, 26 per cent who reduced them in Outer London).

Across the country, 32 per cent of landlords had experience of properties being void in the first quarter of 2021, with the average void period being 102 days.

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  • George Dawes

    Depends in what parts they are referring to , the labour controlled areas definitely , Tory not so


    Why not the labour areas?



    Pay attention! He said it DID include the Labour areas. BTW, that's now an odd name for a party which only supports non workers and despises those who succeed through their own labour and enterprise!


    Robert, agreed but don't we now have 2 left wing parties which both support the workshy spongers labour and conservatives ?

  • icon

    They'll be back! The lure of the Capital will return once we are through Covid - people generally have very short memories.


    I am inclined to agree.

    When the current pandemic is being managed well people will again travel overseas and many will happily return to the Capital. The students and overseas casual and temporary workers who left during recent months will return.

    The article starts by saying that workers are leaving but the reality is that many have already left. Their departure explains rents in London going down 15% during the past year. The exodus is coming to an end.

    Australia is one example of what happens when Covid-19 is managed well using travels bans and lockdowns (rather than vaccines). It is in the midst of one of the strongest property booms seen in decades which is predicted to run until the end of 2021.

  • icon

    Tenants aren’t fleeing London, certainly not in NW2 and most of mine have renewed at pre pandemic prices. That said, I dropped a first floor studio by £100 and the next day it went at £1005 PCM so, yes, some are dripping in price but those with gardens have weathered well.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Average rents in London are down around 15% on 15 months ago. City/central property with no outside space is a hard sell. E1 has been one of the hardest hit areas- void periods have extended massively and we have seen some rents in the area drop by as much as 30%. It will take a couple of years to stabilise (although rents won't drop much/any further) and then the upswing will start again.

  • icon

    Surely not, its the Government / Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick plus Shelter & Local Authorities that caused the situation we now find ourselves in by Law, not the Pandemic we know what happened to us is a great deal more than a virus.

  • George Dawes

    Outside space is definitely the big want now , which is odd as the govt seems to want everyone to rent flats in huge great boxes

  • icon

    Yes, Boxes stack them high that’s where the money is for the big Developers, it doesn’t matter about the customer repetition and they all live in little boxes and they all look just the same.


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