The London rental market – August 2018

Rental demand across London remains high and most properties are letting quickly – with the usual proviso that they must be accurately priced and impeccably presented. Families, young professionals and students are actively looking to move home before the autumn when they plan to take up a new job or university place.

With quite a few new developments launching over the summer, availability is good and tenants have plenty of choice. So even at this busy time of year, landlords need to be aware of the importance of ensuring their rental property is exceptionally well furnished and presented so that it stands out from the competition. Most applicants are very demanding and expect a property to be immaculate – they may not even make an enquiry if the images they see online show old, mismatched or shabby furnishings, for example.

Most experienced landlords use a professional furnishing company to ensure their property meets these exacting standards and it’s a move that pays off – at the moment we’re finding that many brand new apartments that have been furnished professionally are letting within around 48 hours.

Landlords also need to be aware that, if they bought a property off plan from a developer several years ago, the developer’s forecast on asking rents may be over-optimistic. The London rental market has changed during that time – in fact it changes almost daily. Stocks of rental properties are plentiful in new developments across the capital and while demand is high, competition to attract high calibre tenants is strong.

Applicants are increasingly well-informed about the rental market and what they should expect to pay for a particular property. Many are looking for a bargain and will put in a ‘cheeky’ offer in the hope of doing a deal. No-one wants to pay more than they have to. Landlords should therefore listen to their local branch manager who can advise on local rental market conditions and asking rents in the current market.

2 bed apartment at London Dock

The City and East London

Rental demand in the City and East London is strong and enquiry levels are high. Demand from students remains buoyant throughout the year although this is peak season. Budgets vary widely, with international students usually renting a property alone, paying £300 – £700 per week for a one bed flat, preferably in a secure building with a concierge around 10 to 15 minutes’ commute from their university. The City, Bloomsbury, Aldgate and the Strand are popular areas while around 50% of our tenants at new development London Dock are students. UK nationals have stricter budgets and usually share, jointly paying £475 – £550 per week for a three bed house. Older properties in Zones 2 and 3 fall more within their budgets.

Our City branch is looking forward to the launch of One Blackfriars in a few weeks, a stunning new mixed use development from St George. We are already receiving enquiries from applicants and have pre-let several apartments in this 50 storey tower which has panoramic views over London. We are also letting a number of units in the soon to complete Landmark Place in EC3 near Tower Bridge, another spectacular development with superb views and amenities. Our Canary Wharf branch has good stocks of properties at a range of price points, all of which are letting well, while our London Dock/Wapping branch has been busy handling enquiries for the latest phase of Goodman Fields which is highly sought-after – furnished properties are letting within 48 hours. Demand remains high at London Dock itself is remains consistently popular. August sees the launch of Marine Wharf East, the latest phase to complete at Surrey Quays. Enquiry levels are high and again we have already pre-let a number of apartments. We would love to speak to any landlords who are interested in letting their apartments here as we have waiting lists of tenants already referenced and ready to move. Also extremely popular is London Square Canada Water where we have several apartments – all of which let within 48 hours of being furnished. Again we are looking for more stocks here.

Our Greenwich branch is handling enquiries for new apartments launching in the next phase at Royal Arsenal Riverside which are now completing. The soon-to-open Crossrail station on site at the development is now a major factor in attracting tenants. The new line will drastically reduce the commute to central London and the City and this is prompting tenants to consider this part of East London for the first time.

Tenancy renewal rates across East London generally remain high and fewer properties are coming back onto the market at the end of a tenancy – once tenants have found a good property at the right price, they tend to stay.

Central London

3 bed apartment at Imperial House, Kensington

The rental market in central London is good and our Knightsbridge, Kensington and Hyde Park branches are receiving enquiries from a mix of tenants – young professionals, students and families. Most students were organised and secured properties in early summer before the holiday season while demand from families relocating from overseas is increasing noticeably now.

Many corporate tenants are moving to London from the US, as well as France and Italy, typically looking for a three or four bed, unfurnished property – either a house (mews houses are very popular) or a large apartment – with outside space, either a small garden, balcony or terrace or access to a communal garden. They have good budgets but expect a property to be in immaculate condition and won’t even consider arranging a viewing unless online presentation is superb.

Existing tenants remain keen to renew their tenancies and renewal rates remain high at around 85%+. In a competitive rental market, landlords should be pro-active to secure a let quickly. Applicants usually have a variety of specific questions about issues which are important to them such as the availability of parking – landlords must respond quickly to these queries or they risk losing the tenant who will simply make an offer on another equally suitable property.

Demand for apartments at Nine Elms continues to grow and the most recent developments to launch – Embassy Gardens and The Residence – are attracting a lot of interest. The area generally is becoming increasingly popular as new facilities – cafes, bars, restaurants and shops – continue to open and as tenants realise how close the area is to central London – particularly when the new Northern Line extension opens in 2020 which will reduce commute times considerably.

3 bed apartment at Kew Bridge

West London

Demand for rental properties in West London is consistently high, with apartments letting quickly across the area, from Imperial Wharf (and Chelsea Creek) in Fulham to Dickens Yard in Ealing and Kew Bridge in Brentford. We have shortages of stock now in some developments, particularly one and two bed apartments, so are keen to talk to landlords who own properties in West London. With such high demand and reduced availability, apartments are achieving asking rental at Dickens Yard and Kew Bridge as applicants don’t want to lose a property they like for the sake of a few pounds a month. Our Kew Bridge branch has just taken on a block of new instructions at Dolphin House, a newly converted and refurbished building in Sunbury on Thames. This new development is attracting a lot of interest and we have let several properties already as it is extremely affordable – studios are available for £195+ per week, one beds £220+ per week and two beds £285+ per week – the spec is excellent, there is parking for residents and the development is conveniently situated next to a mainline rail station – Upper Halliford – so offers an easy commute into central London. Demand remains high at our Fulham Reach branch in Hammersmith, with apartments at Fulham Reach, Sovereign Court and Queen’s Wharf all letting quickly. We have waiting lists of fully referenced tenants for some types of property so are keen to talk to landlords who have apartments to let there.

North London

2 bed apartment at Argent House, Beaufort Park

Our Beaufort Park branch is extremely busy, with studios, one, two and three bed properties all letting immediately. We are handling a lot of enquiries from students – with most coming from China, Singapore and Thailand. Many are referred to us by students already living here. Students make excellent tenants – offering close to asking rental and paying six or 12 months’ rent in advance and a higher, 10 week security deposit.

Demand is exceptionally high at the new building Argent House, particularly from young professionals – most units are two bed apartments popular with professional sharers. A new phase launches soon, releasing more stock to meet demand. Also generating a lot of interest is the newly launched Capri House. We have been receiving a lot of new instructions here so have good stocks to meet demand. Most tenants are signing two or even three year tenancy agreements from the outset, a clear indicator of the development’s popularity.

In Hampstead and Highgate it is very much peak season for families looking to rent a property as they prepare to settle in before the start of the new school term in September. All types and sizes of property are letting quickly – from one to five bed homes. We continue to see good demand from families relocating here from overseas, particularly from France as our lettings branches have rental properties located very conveniently for the College francais bilingue de Londres. We are also taking on quite a few new instructions – some of these are from homeowners moving overseas to work and so wish to rent out their home while they are away. New developments like Woodberry Park continue to grow in popularity and are a real gamechanger for this part of North London, offering high spec accommodation and superb facilities.

If you have a property to let in any of these areas, or would like a free no-obligation rental valuation of your property please contact us. For more London rental market news and updates, subscribe to our newsletter.

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About the Author

For over 35 years Anita has been the driving force behind Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings’ success as it has grown from a single Hampstead lettings branch to central London’s largest, independent lettings and property management company, with 16 branches across the Capital. Anita’s vision has driven the expansion of the business to offer a complete range of property investment related services from under one roof, from purchase to handover, furnishings and/or refurbishment to lettings and property management. Read more about Anita Mehra here - Read full profile

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