More people want to rent

Laura Devlin Demand for rental properties remains at record levels in East Anglia as people delay plans to buy their own place due to the downturn in the housing market.

Laura Devlin

Demand for rental properties remains at record levels in East Anglia as people delay plans to buy their own place due to the downturn in the housing market.

The proportion of letting agents across the UK reporting demand for homes to rent outstripping supply remained at a historic high of 39pc during the past three months.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents said the imbalance between supply and demand is highest is Greater London and the South East, which for the report included East Anglia.

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But despite the high levels of demand, rents fell during the three months to the end of May, with average rents for houses falling by 7pc, while the level of income that landlords can expect from flats dropped by 9pc.

The group attributed the fall to large numbers of new-build two-bedroom flats coming on to the rental market.

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The survey's findings are contrary to recent reports that rents were booming on the back of the problems in the housing market.

Mortgage lender Paragon recently said strong demand had pushed the average cost of renting a home in England and Wales through the £1,000-a-month barrier for the first time.

Ian Potter, head of operations at ARLA, said: “We are seeing corrections in individual locations throughout the country. The main cause of these is the developments of new blocks of two-bedroom flats coming on-stream.

“In many places, this has had a positive effect as it has allowed the rental market to provide stability in housing at a time of volatility in the sales market. It also demolishes the myth of soaring rent levels.”

But strong demand has led to a further fall in the average length of time a property is empty between tenants, with this reducing from 24 days to 22 during the past three months.

There has also been an increase in the average length of time tenants stay in a property, with this rising from 16.1 months to 16.3 months.

The research, which was based on responses from 444 letting agents, found that the majority of landlords plan to sit tight and ride out the current problems in the housing market, with 77pc saying they were not planning to either buy or sell properties in the near future.

Property landlord Lynsey Sweales, the PR and marketing director for the Money Centre, said she had not seen a massive increase in rental prices but rental demand in Norwich had “definitely increased” for both houses and flats.

“There is a big demand,” she said.

“I had a property which was vacant for two days and then it was rented again, and what I have seen is tenants want to rent for 12 months rather than six. I think people are looking to save up for a property and want some stability.”

Meanwhile, new-build apartments and flats in Norwich have seen a slight slowdown in sales but are still attracting owner-occupiers and the buy-to-let market, according to Bidwells.

New-homes manager David Walker said: “We are going through a challenging time with some price readjustment but we are in much, much better shape than a lot of regional city and town centres.

“We sold four apartments at the old hospital site last week, and three the week before that. That's right in the heart of the Golden Triangle, so it's still selling well although we are achieving £200,000 for properties which were £215,000 to £220,000 12 months ago. I think bread-and-butter apartments around the city are probably struggling a bit more. What we have seen is that there seems to be more of a preference for properties in existing residential locations.”

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