Increasing landlord investment aids falling rents

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert February 27, 2011 20:15

The latest buy-to-let Index from LSL Property Services found the average rent in England and Wales dropped by 0.3% to £682 per month.

This is the second successive month rents have fallen on the Index.

The average yield fell slightly to 4.9% in January, as rents declined at a faster pace than rental property values.

David Newnes, estate agency managing director of LSL Property Services, owners of Your Move and Reeds Rains said: "The recent loosening in the buy-to-let mortgage market has boosted the supply of rental homes on the market, a crucial factor in the temporary drop in rents.

"In the last quarter of 2010, the number of buy-to-let loans leapt by 7% according to CML.

"With more products coming onto the market, there are signs that this trend is continuing into 2011, allowing a growing number of professional landlords to get onto the market - or broaden their portfolios - and take advantage of near record rental income and strong tenant demand. International investors, too, have played their part, looking to place their cash in UK bricks and mortar while yields look attractive and properties are affordable."

Despite the slight decrease in rents, they are still 4% higher than a year ago - and are showing signs of renewed growth in several areas of the country. Rents in the East and West Midlands increased by 0.9% and 0.8% respectively, 0.8% in Yorkshire and the Humber, and 0.2% in London. However, the overall drop was driven by larger falls in the East of England (-2.5%), Wales (-2.1%), the North West (-1%), alongside decreases of 0.4% in the South West and South East.

Newnes said: "Although rents have fallen, the strength of the rental market cushioned the additional impact of winter. Fewer tenants tend to move in December and January - and many landlords drop rents to avoid experiencing vacant properties. Despite the seasonal downturn, and the increase in supply, there remains healthy demand for property and rents are still £26pcm higher than last January."

Tenant finances were in slightly better shape than in December, but high arrears remain a concern for landlords. Some 11% of all UK rent was unpaid or late by the end of January, a drop from 11.7% in the previous month. Unpaid rent totalled £258million across the UK in January, down from £276million in December.

Newnes said: "Tenant arrears look to have improved following the impact of Christmas spending, but they remain high. Their failure to return to a much lower level points to an underlying issue with tenant finances.

"Rents remain near record highs, and many household budgets have become squeezed by inflation and the toll taken by public sector cuts. In a market where properties aren't jumping up in value, rental income is even more crucial to investors' returns - and pays the mortgage bill each month. It's vital that landlords act swiftly to head-off any potential tenant issues at the pass before they become a recurring nightmare."

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert February 27, 2011 20:15

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