For the vast majority, 2020 has been a transcendent year. As we continue with the current national lockdown, we are reminded of how it began and what it taught us.
The March lockdown caught many people off-guard and the world was forced to adapt quicker than they had ever expected. The letting market is no different. Tenant priorities have changed, as have the ways in which property managers can adapt to them.
Lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines throughout the year have forced people to assess their living situations. As more people are working remotely, the demand for extra working spaces has risen. This has been evident in larger cities where extra space, whether indoors or outdoors, can come at a premium. The rise of the home office has pushed tenants to look elsewhere to properties that can match that demand.
A noticeable trend is the growth in appetite for properties outside of the capital and large cities in the UK. Not needing to be in such close proximity to the office has allowed prospective tenants to widen their radius. Pre-COVID, the thought of living in a city centre high-rise apartment complex wouldn’t come with too many challenges.
Now however, the isolation factor may still linger even with recent news of a potential upcoming vaccine. Time will tell when, and if, normality significantly returns, but people won’t forget. The idea of living in a different type of property, in a different area and possibly nearer family is becoming more popular.
This represents a significant shift in the housing market for tenants, but also for property managers. Managers will need to re-evaluate their portfolios and rental stock, ensuring that they match tenant priorities. Communicating this with prospective tenants will become even more important as we move into 2021.
The desire for tenants to stay in larger properties for longer has accelerated during 2020. Properties with more indoor and outdoor space have taken precedence over city-centre flats in close proximity to the office. This has ultimately increased the average tenancy length across the board.
Recent data from an Arthur integrated partner, Zoopla, indicates that tenant demand in rental property continues to rise. On average, demand from tenants in the private rental sector in September rose by 20% compared to the previous year. This increase has pushed prospective tenants to look for longer rental periods.
For property managers, finding the right tenants in a longer tenancy becomes even more crucial. If the wrong tenant is chosen for a particular property, it could lead to costly repairs and convoluted dialogue.
While the housing market remains open during the second national lockdown, remote and virtual management is highly encouraged. This includes tenant reference checks, which can be done remotely anytime, anywhere. Through its integration with Advanced Tenant Referencing, Arthur allows you to carry out comprehensive applicant reference checks swiftly and flexibly.
While 2020 has forced many people to adapt, it has also encouraged them to be flexible. More people are looking to try new areas, new properties and new ways of living before they commit to a purchase. This has been the case even pre-COVID.
However, what we are seeing now is more people trying new areas and properties that they otherwise would not have considered. For example, the growth in demand from London-based individuals for properties outside of the capital attests to this.
By renting, tenants can analyse the short to medium-term with an eye on the long-term. What they value now, or previously, might have changed. Tenants can see how the economy responds and whether a vaccine will return us to a more normal working/living environment.
For many, living further away from work and working from home has encouraged a better work/life balance. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Therefore, it is becoming clearer how significant the rental sector is for the future of the housing market.
The ‘try before you buy’ surge across the UK can ensure a stable stream of demand. However, it must not be underestimated how attentive a property manager must be as 2020 comes to a close.
Managers need to communicate effectively to prospective tenants how their rental stock matches what their values are. Communication is the cornerstone in running a successful business across the entire tenancy journey. With that in mind, more managers are looking to technology to minimise the likelihood of mistakes or delays.
To find out more about how Arthur can help you manage your portfolio remotely sign up for a free trial today.