Big bounce in number of new tenants looking for homes

The number of new applicants seeking to rent in March was up 21% from February, with demand outstripping supply as the number of available homes to rent rose only 5%.

According to Sequence – part of Connells – average rents for March were £704, unchanged from February. London rents averaged £1,375, almost twice the national average.

The number of agreed new tenancies was up 13% on the previous month, and up 19% on the year before.

Separately, the Spareroom website has reported that flat sharers are paying nearly 7% more than a year ago, with the average rent for a double room including bills now £497 per month compared with £465 a year ago. In London, average room rents are £660 per month, 20% higher than two years ago.

Matt Hutching, director of the website, said: “The fact that room rents are rising at a rate well above inflation is worrying. The bright side is that at least there is not the added cost of utility bills to factor in. ‘All inclusive’ is a silver lining in an increasingly bleak rental market.”

Unsurprisingly, landlords are feeling confident about the market, with high levels of tenant demand and low void periods.

A survey by specialist lender Paragon also showed that landlords are feeling more positive about the availability of buy-to-let mortgages, with 32% saying they thought finance was reasonably available. Paragon said that smaller investors are finding it easier to get finance than professional landlords.