The London rental market – June 2018

The London rental market remains challenging, despite high levels of enquiries and many professionals actively looking to rent high quality homes. In many areas, there are a lot of new developments coming on stream at the moment and this means competition is strong. Applicants have plenty of choice and a property must really stand out to attract a tenant quickly.

So how do you ensure your rental property has maximum tenant appeal? Our own research shows that there are certain key factors that tenants almost always prioritise when they are looking for a new rental home.

Being near good transport links is key – Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line) opens later this year and is a real gamechanger for property investors, with rental demand rising rapidly in areas close to Crossrail stations. The new Northern Line extension near Battersea Power Station in Nine Elms is likely to have a similarly positive effect on rental demand south of the river. Next, bear in mind that proximity to good schools and universities is also a ‘must’ if you are hoping to attract families.

Furnished to let

Most tenants also expect amenities such as a gym, pool and concierge, the latter being particularly important for busy working professionals. Fast internet connection is now essential while requests for a cinema room and cycle storage is becoming more commonplace. As ever, a rental property must be well maintained and immaculately presented and of course, value for money is perhaps more important than anything so a property must be accurately priced in line with current market conditions which can change quickly in a tenants market.

Lastly, most tenants prefer to rent a property that is professionally managed – over 95% of the companies we work with (and 100% of our Japanese corporate clients) insist that their staff only rent properties that are professionally managed. In a tough market, ensuring your property meets these criteria means you are more likely to let it quickly. For advice on any of these points, please contact one of our branches who will be well placed to advise you.

The City and East London

We are seeing good demand for keenly priced rental properties in the City and East London, with apartments letting for up to £650 per week the most sought-after.

Rental hotspots continue to emerge in East London, where lower sales values and high rental demand mean landlords are achieving yields of 5%+. Landlords who bought in the last five years in Lewisham (near our Surrey Quays office) are achieving 5%+ while those with rental properties in Poplar are achieving 5%+ and in Beckton (both near our Canary Wharf office) 6%+. It’s a win-win situation – landlords are achieving excellent rental yields while tenants are finding high spec homes at very affordable rents. A stand-out trend at the moment is the increasing number of applicants moving to East London from their current West London addresses – many are City professionals wishing to reduce their commute but it is also a sign that tenants want to find higher specification rental accommodation and better value.

Apartment to rent at Blackfriars Circus

Over the next few months, we are looking forward to the launch of a number of high profile, residential developments across East London, giving tenants even greater choice and offering accommodation for all budgets. In the City, we are awaiting the completion of Landmark Tower, a stunning, 5* development in EC3, overlooking the Thames near Tower Bridge. Due to launch this summer, the development has a gym, swimming pool, fitness suite and cinema room, so we expect rental demand to be high. One bed apartments are likely to achieve upwards of £575 per week while two bed apartments should let for over £775 per week. Our City and Wapping branches are also dealing with enquiries for several other new developments or phases of apartments, including the latest phase of Goodman Fields which launches in a few weeks, Blackfriars Circus and Two Fifty One Southwark Bridge Rd. Again, these are all stunning developments with exceptionally high spec interiors, fabulous views and excellent amenities so we expect demand to be high. Close to our Surrey Quays branch is London Square, just 10 minutes’ walk from Canada Water station. The development launches soon and again interest is building. New in Greenwich is Enderby Wharf, a riverside development with spectacular views and rental apartments at keen price points – a great opportunity for tenants to enjoy luxurious but affordable riverside living. A little further along the river at Woolwich, the latest building to launch at Royal Arsenal Riverside will be Waterfront 2. The development’s popularity goes from strength to strength and we expect the new apartments to match this success.

An exciting move for us is our appointment as one of the preferred letting agents for Sailmakers, part of the Millharbour Village development on the South Quay of Canary Wharf which is due to launch in September. This is a new development built specifically for rent or corporate lets and we are looking forward to letting properties in this new type of community.

West London

Apartment to rent at Sovereign Court

Rental apartments in West London are attracting high levels of enquiries and our branches at Dickens Yard in Ealing, Kew Bridge in Brentford and Imperial Wharf and Chelsea Creek near Fulham are all very busy. Stock levels are reduced a little at Dickens Yard and Kew Bridge so we are actively looking for new instructions there. The developments are popular with corporate clients with good budgets who tend to opt for larger, two bed apartments while local renters usually have more modest budgets so will often look for a one bed property. With limited availability, properties usually let almost as soon as they come onto the market. In fact, we have a waiting list of fully referenced tenants waiting for apartments to become available so if you own a rental property in at Dickens Yard or Kew Bridge, please do get in touch.

A shortage of stock is also the case at our Fulham Reach branch in Hammersmith. We have let all our units at Lancaster House and only have a few left at Marquis House – both at Sovereign Court. With enquiries continuing to pour in, we are looking for new instructions to meet demand. Most existing tenants are renewing their tenancy agreements at the end of the year too – around 80% – and this is adding to the shortages.

Central London

Apartment to rent at Nine Elms Point

The rental market in central London remains steady, with accurately priced properties around Hyde Park, Kensington and Knightsbridge letting well. However, realism is key in this competitive market. Most applicants remain focused on minimising accommodation costs and expect to negotiate on rents to reduce their outgoings. Tenancy renewals are high, again in a move to keep costs down. On the positive side, we continue to see interest from overseas applicants looking for rental properties in central London. Professionals on secondment here are not particularly concerned about Brexit as they know their employers will organise visas if these become necessary in the future.

Our Hyde Park office is seeing good demand for one bed apartments priced at £700-£800 per week and two bed properties renting for £1000-£1250 per week. New developments in Fitzrovia, Covent Garden, the Strand and Paddington are particularly sought-after. The most buoyant sector of the market around Hyde Park is the upper end – senior executives looking for high end properties for £1000+ for a one bed apartment or £1200 for a two bed. There is also strong demand from recent graduates whose parents are helping them by continuing to pay for their accommodation when they are starting out, as these younger professionals cannot afford to pay their rent on a typical starting salary. Interest in apartments at Nine Elms near Vauxhall is growing sharply, with many applicants now starting to look beyond their ‘comfort zone’ of central London to this new and vibrant area that is being regenerated so successfully. Many are opting for a move here as rents still offer excellent value for money, in an area that is deceptively close to central London.

North London

Apartment to rent at Beaufort Park, Colindale

The last few weeks have seen rental demand in Hampstead and Highgate really pick up and there is a more positive feel to the market. One and two bed, mid-range properties priced at £400-£500 per week are letting particularly well. Especially popular are properties that have either their own outside space or are close to Hampstead Heath. The market remains competitive though and value for money remains important for tenants at all price points so accurate pricing is essential. Rents have softened a little over the last year, so landlords must be realistic and prepared to negotiate with applicants to ensure their property lets quickly. We also continue to see stiff competition from new builds on the fringes of Hampstead – these raise the bar in terms of spec and overall quality so it will come as no surprise to hear that older rental properties must be refurbished regularly and to exacting standards in order to provide the contemporary interiors that applicants expect.

At Beaufort Park in Colindale, demand is really picking up now and interest in the new building, Argent House, has been good, with nearly all one bed apartments there now let. We still have a few two bed properties remaining.

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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