The grip the coronavirus pandemic has had on landlords is revealed in the latest data from the letting agent trade body.
ARLA speaks for letting agents who handle almost half of the UK’s 4.2 million private rented homes.
The latest Private Rented Sector Report for May show only 14% of tenants reported their rents had increased – the lowest level ever.
A year earlier, in May 2019, 45% of tenants told ARLA that their rents had gone up.
The level of tenants securing a cheaper rent hit 2.5%, the highest number since May 2019, when the 2.9% managed to negotiate a less expensive deal.
Due to the coronavirus lockdown closing letting agents and stopping viewings, landlords saw private rented homes stand empty for an average five weeks – the longest void period recorded since ARLA started records.
Demand dropped 15% from an average 82 tenants looking for a home registered with each letting agent’s branch to 70 tenants seeking to rent.
Since the housing market reopened, the number of properties managed by a letting agency has slightly increased from 201 to 208, which ARLA says is the same as a year ago.
The average tenancy is running for 19 months, the same as 12 months ago.
Regionally, tenants in Wales and the East Midlands stay in their rented homes the longest – an average 24 months. The shortest tenancies are in Scotland, where they last 13 months.
“Our latest figures show that landlords and agents have been taking the brunt of the pandemic. They are aware of the financial difficulties facing tenants and have shown empathy with many landlords not increasing rents where they otherwise might have needed to,” said ARLA CEO David Cox.
“As we continue to move forward, it’s important that everyone aims to keep the rent flowing in order to sustain the market and help boost the economy following several months of uncertainty.”