Demand for rental properties has more than tripled in just four years, according to new research commissioned by the NRLA. Here Chief Executive Ben Beadle says action is needed now to tackle the supply crisis that is devastating the sector.

Demand for homes is at a record high.

New research commissioned by the NRLA has shown that a massive 71% of landlords reported increased demand from tenants in 2023, more than triple the pre-pandemic figure of 22%.

This shows – in black and white – the extent of the crisis we are facing in the private rented sector.

At times I feel like a broken record, having spoken time after time to MPs and high-ranking civil servants, Select Committees and the media about the implications of the increasing demand for homes at a time of dwindling supply.

The figures released last week from independent research consultancy BVA-BDRC, found demand was soaring across the country, with the West Midlands ranking top of the pile, with 76% of landlords reporting increased tenant demand, followed by 75% in Wales and 74% in the South East, excluding London.

Yet despite this record demand, more and more landlords want out, with more than one in 10 (12%) saying they sold property in the third quarter of this year.

This is more than double the 5% of landlords who confirmed they bought rental homes in the same period.

And the future looks no more promising, with 28% of those answering the survey saying they plan to cut the number of properties they rent out over the next 12 months.

This contrasts with the 8% of landlords who plan to increase the number they let over the coming year.

Hitting tenants in the pocket

Recent figures from property platform Zoopla showed there are now 25 tenants competing for every rental property, and as well as seeing an ever-increasing number of tenants competing for an even smaller pool of properties, the lack of supply also forces up rents.

This makes life even more challenging for those on a tight budget – including some of the country’s most vulnerable tenants – and could ultimately cancel out any gains resulting from the Chancellor’s decision to reverse the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates.

Ultimately, this could see them forced to turn to rogue or criminal landlords for housing, given the lack of any viable alternative.

Desperate situation

It is no exaggeration to say we are now in a desperate situation.

What we need now is bold leadership and change.

The Government needs to accept it got it wrong on tax, in creating a system in which investment in holiday lets is more sustainable than the provision of long-term homes to rent.

Instead we need pro-growth tax measures to turn things around.

These should include the end of the stamp duty levy on the purchase of homes to let, as well as the reversal of mortgage interest relief changes that have hit the sector hard.

And this isn’t just pie in the sky. Research by Capital Economics for the NRLA found that removing the three percentage-point stamp duty levy on the purchase of additional homes would see almost 900,000 new private rented homes made available across the UK over the next ten years.

Let me say that again – almost a million, desperately needed, homes to let.

The same modelling shows this, in turn, would lead to a £10 billion boost to Treasury revenue over the same period, meaning more money for the Government.

It really is a win-win.

The data is there; what we need now is the political will to bring about positive change to stimulate investment and provide the homes to rent that this country so vitally needs, in the places where people want to live.

More information

To read more about the NRLA’s tax campaign click here.

About the author

Ben headshot

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.

A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.

His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.

NRLA: The NRLA updates landlords on all the latest legislation changes affecting the sector and offers expert advice, training and other exclusive services and benefits.

The views expressed in this content are solely those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of TDS, its officers, or employees. To read more on TDS views, visit our Policies & Procedures webpage.

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