Rental prices could be levelling out

SIGNS suggest that rental prices in the Private Rental Sector could be levelling out, according to letting agents.

Latest data from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) shows that in the first quarter of this year, 50 percent of its members reported increased achievable rent levels, in line with news of rising rents across the UK.

However, the percentage of members reporting this has fallen from 60 percent nine months ago, indicating that a downward trend is being established.

Over the same timeframe, the average void period – the length of time for which a rental property is un-tenanted - rose for the second successive quarter, to an average three weeks.

ARLA members also reported a decline in the number of new tenancies being signed, a factor which, although not unusual for this time of year, may also indicate decreasing demand from tenants, or be a reflection of their inability to afford the rents being charged. It could equally be nothing more than the effect of tenants staying longer in their property

Tim Hyatt, ARLA president, said: “Our data suggests that things could be changing in the PRS as the amount being charged for rent is beginning to stabilise in some parts of the UK. This could be due to a number of factors, including an increase in haggling forcing rent levels down.

“Our members also report a decline in the number of properties coming onto the rental market because they can’t be sold, suggesting that the initial boom in ‘reluctant landlords’ joining the PRS is coming to an end.

“However we know anecdotally that this is by no means a consistent picture across the UK, as there is still a huge demand for rental property in some parts of the country. Ultimately, the key challenge of undersupply has not been solved and there is still a need to provide the right housing, in the right places, across the wider housing market.”