Rental demand pushed to record levels, with a 24% year on year growth



Over 275,000 new tenants registered for private rental accommodation in 2011, a 24 percent increase on 2010, according to Countrywide, the UK’s largest lettings agent and property services Group.

The findings follow an extensive survey taken among Countrywide’s network of more than 300 branches to track key market trends among some of the industry’s biggest property brands, such as Hamptons International, Bridgfords, Slater Hogg & Howison, Taylors, Dixons and Fulfords.

Nearly 80,000 new tenants registered with Countrywide agents during Q3 2011, with August generating the highest number of enquiries since Countrywide records began.

Overall, London saw the biggest spike in enquiries, with a 35 percent increase in tenant applications recorded over the course of the year.

Table A: Annual increase in new tenants registering for rental accommodation:


Year on year percentage increase %











The Group’s quarterly research into the private rental sector also confirmed that the demand is causing a growing number of rental properties to be let before they are even advertised. Those properties that do make it to market took an average of 13.6 days to be let/occupied in 2011, a reduction of 1.2 days compared to the 2010 average.

Table B: Average number of days properties are let within




















The findings also reveal that whilst cohabiting couples under the age of 35 continue to make up the largest proportion of new tenants looking to rent (at 23.4% in Q4 2011), a growing number of families are entering the private rental market, an emerging trend which was found to be most evident in the North and South East of the UK.

The report also found that in Q4 2011, 53.1% of new landlords were either investing in buy-to-let (BTL) property for the first time or investors with small portfolios. As investment in the UK buy-to-let market has grown over the course of the year with investors looking to invest their cash in property, whilst taking advantage of the competitive BTL mortgage rates on offer.

Nick Dunning, Commercial Director at Countrywide said;

“We are in the midst of a rental boom as renting has become the new norm. Despite gradual improvements in property levels, it is not enough to satisfy the ever-increasing levels of demand. With a record number of tenants entering the private rental sector, there is a vast shortage of properties available in all areas of UK, which could potentially fuel a steady rise in rent prices throughout 2012.”

Also, operating the UK’s largest mortgage broker, with over 650 mortgage consultants across the country, Countrywide has seen a marked increase in the availability of competitively priced buy-to-let mortgages during the previous six months, which has helped to make property investment an increasingly attractive option for professional landlords who manage small portfolios. In 2011, the volume of activity in the buy-to-let market looks set to have increased by 20% year on year with lending to have risen above £12bn.

Commenting on the increase in buy-to-let lending, Nigel Stockton, Countrywide Financial Services Director said;

“Whilst buy-to-let lending has grown, it is still only at 30% of the total buy-to-let lending that we were seeing at the peak of the market.

In November’s housing strategy, the government announced some measures to tackle the problem of empty homes; with over 720,000 empty properties in the UK.

We welcome any Government support to encourage investment and the transfer of these properties to the buy-to-let sector in order to alleviate the current supply and demand imbalance.”