Many people are looking for new homes due to the situation that unfolded throughout the past year and a half. And considering the sky high house prices, many will be looking to rent. While finding a new rental might not look like rocket science, preparation could be the difference between finding a new home you’ll enjoy, and ending up in a place you dread living in. How you’ll approach your rental hunt depends a lot on your personal situation and your local market, but here’s some general information on navigating the UK’s 2021 rental market.
General state of UK’s rental market
To successfully navigate the real estate market, you first need to have a feeling of where things are standing. Overall, the current UK rental market favours people who let because demand for rentals has been higher than supply for some time now. The pandemic furthered this trend.
There are, of course, differences on a regional, city, and even borough level. Market analysts generally divide trends between inner-city areas, outer city areas, and London. The last one, naturally, comes with its own set of peculiarities. According to Hometrack, “UK rental growth outside London hit a 4-year high.” At the same time, London experienced the lowest average rent for the past decade.
If you are in the market for renting a property, the current state of affairs is not your only concern. We live in unprecedented times that have already left their mark and will continue to do so in the near future. The reality around COVID-19 and the corresponding restrictions noticeably altered the rental situation. It remains to be seen how the current easing of restrictions will further impact the market.
The impact of COVID and the restrictions
There are several ways in which COVID and the stints in lockdown have affected the rental market. For starters, as more people moved towards a permanent or semi-permanent work-at-home arrangement, the demand for outer city properties rose at the expense of inner-city rentals. People working from home are looking for larger properties to accommodate a home office or real estate with gardens to make up for the restricted access to recreational and sports facilities.
Whether this trend will be reversed depends largely on how companies and the economy respond to the new reality surrounding the lifted restrictions. Some businesses have already committed to more flexible working arrangements letting employees continue working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. What this means is that there’ll be some shift in demand in both outer-city and inner-city rentals. At least for those who’ll go back to work at their employment facilities and those that’ll remain working from home.
So, what’s your situation? Are you staying as a work-from-home employee? Will it be a permanent stay or a semi-permanent one? What about your partner if you live with one? These are all things that you need to consider when making a plan for your rental search. You also need to consider the local situation, like how many companies are asking their employees to come back to the office and how many are committing to keeping in place the work-from-home situation. This will impact how your local market will adapt to the supply/demand situation.
How to find a suitable rental?
You need to think about a ton of things if you want to have an edge when searching for a rental this year. This is why your best bet is to find a good agency, or several, and a trustable agent who knows their way around the local market.
Working with an agency/agent will benefit you by having someone experienced with things that you may not have considered. What’s more, you’ll get access to quality listings, and, depending on the agency, you might even get alerts for properties the moment they hit the market.
Of course, you can also search for a rental yourself. Here you have plenty of options, and you can use them all together.
The most obvious thing to do is go through online listings and set up alerts. The upside of these listings is that you can find all the information you need without feeling pressured to make an offer. Pro tip: look at recently expired listings to get a more accurate idea of what to expect. To help with the search, you can also ask your friends, family and social media circles to keep an eye for something that matches your needs.
Things to consider when searching for a rental property
Speaking of needs, here’s what to consider when searching for a suitable rental. At least beyond the obvious: rent that you can afford and safe, livable conditions.
Of course, the first major factor that will guide your rental search is whether you’ll be living there alone or with someone else. If it’s the latter, you need to also consider their situation. Are we talking about a working adult that might need to commute to work while you’ll be working from home? Perhaps both of you need to commute, and in different directions at that. Do you have kids and need a school/kindergarten nearby? Having pets is also an important thing to consider. This year the government eased the life of tenants with pets, but there are still some restrictions that landlords are allowed to enforce.
Location and convenience that suits all the people living at the place is a good starting point. But you can do one better and make a list of things that your new home absolutely must have and those that you can compromise on. This will give you some room for finding a good balance between price and comfort. Go over each half of the list several times and honestly consider if you’ve put everything in the correct half.
To wrap up, if there are three things that you take from this article let them be the following. First, keep updated on the local news and rental market. Second, if possible, work with an experienced agency. Third, make a list of what you must have and what you can live without in your future rental. For more relevant info you can search “[location of your future rental] + rental market.” This will give you the most relevant information for the location where you are searching for a new home. And if you are interested in more tips from us we recommend How To Save Money (Without Feeling Like You’re Saving).
Written by Krasimir Ivanov
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