How can London-based landlords and letting agents attract tenants as rents slide in the capital?

August 12, 2020

London rents slid by 3% during the first half of 2020, driven by lockdown and a changing UK rental market.

And a report from property portal Zoopla found rents in the capital were set to drop even further, with property experts predicting rents will fall by 5% to an average of £1,580 by the end of the year – the lowest level since late 2014. In contrast, tents in England outside of the capital are holding far steadier and even rising in places.

Another survey for the Guardian by Rightmove revealed rental asking prices in zone 2 – which covers areas popular with young professional renters such as Finsbury Park, Hackney and Brixton were down 8% from February.

The continued threat of a second coronavirus wave and further lockdowns has changed what tenants are looking for in a rental property, with a rise in the number of tenants moving out of London as they seek more space and a garden. But what about those tenants who want to stay in the capital? As a landlord or agent with properties in London, what can you do to attract them in this shifting and difficult market?

New research from London-based agency Benham and Reeves found tenants’ current priorities have been shaped by the pandemic and features that were once ‘nice to haves’ are now far bigger draws.

More than 1,700 tenants were asked to rank several rental property features on their importance. Benham and Reeves then compared the results to the same survey last year and found several key differences.

Topping 2020’s list of ‘must haves’ was fast broadband, which is now the most sought-after feature in a rental property as working from home looks set to be part of the new normal for some time.

Air conditioning also crept up the table as many of us sweltered over our desks or kitchen tables in our homes during the summer heat.

In contrast, living within nine minutes of transport links, which last year ranked as the most important feature in a rental property, slid to fifth.

Tenants are also prioritising outdoor spaces and access to parks and other green areas, with these features rising from seventh and ninth respectively last year to second and third post-lockdown.

A concierge or onsite security moved to fourth from last year’s third, while a cinema room or on-site gym slipped down the table.

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “There’s no doubt that the spread of the coronavirus has had a notable impact on the property prioritisation of tenants. These emerging trends are likely to continue with talk of a second wave and many preempting another potential lockdown.

“That’s not to say that tenants don’t want the traditional facilities such as an on-site gym or social area to relax in. However, the ability to work successfully from home, while also having the option to take some time out in the fresh air, are undoubtedly the biggest draws at present.

“This is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future, although we should see a seasonal adjustment as the long sunny days start to disappear.”