Demand for rented properties has increased by 30% in the two weeks to 14 April, according to Zoopla’s latest quarterly Rental Market Report.
The figure shows that demand for these properties has “bounced back” after falling 57% in the two weeks to 30 March.
Despite these “signs of life”, rental demand is still 42% lower than at the start of March. There has been no mass withdrawal of rental properties listed to let, down just 3% compared to 1 March
Annual UK rental growth is at 2.4%, up from 1.5% in March last year, and rental growth for the rest of the year is expected to moderate but remain in “positive territory”.
The latest report from Zoopla said that activity levels are also likely to rise more quickly in the rental market than the sales market once the coronavirus lockdown eases, given that the average ‘time to let’ is less than three weeks in usual market conditions, compared to the three months average to complete a sale.
Once lockdown restrictions ease, the property group expects activity levels to “likely rise”, though looking ahead it expects the number of moves in lettings to fall 25% over 2020, compared to 2019.
Nonetheless, the total number of properties listed as available to rent has remained “broadly unchanged” since the start of the lockdown, indicating that there has been no large-scale withdrawal of listings.
In its latest update, Zoopla said: “The impact of coronavirus has been less pronounced in the lettings market compared to the sales market.
“The rental market is more dynamic than the sales market and increased uncertainty means households looking for a home will turn to the rental market first to meet any immediate housing need.”
It added: “Demand for rental properties fell by more than 55% between 7th March and 30th March, while, in contrast, the sales market was hit by a 70% decline in buyer demand, after the government effectively suspended transactions.
“The additional flexibility in the lettings market, which has allowed agents to agree rental contracts with delayed start dates, and agree terms based on online viewings, means that activity has continued throughout the lockdown, albeit at a significantly lower rate.”