Letting Agents Quit as Legal Squeeze Grips Buy to Let

Letting agents have a record roster of homes to rent on their books, but the figures don’t mean landlords are making more properties available. 

The Association Of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the letting agent trade body, claims the increase probably means the first wave of agency sell-ups and mergers on the high street following an industry legal shake-up are feeding through. 

The government has revamped the private letting market by forcing agents to join an independent redress scheme, offering client money protection to safeguard landlord and tenant cash and will scrap fees for tenants from June 1, 2019. 

The ARLA report reveals agencies have 203 homes to let for each branch - up from 197 a month ago and the highest number reported since records started in 2015. 

The increase represents a 13% year-on-year increase. Demand from tenants is also rising, with 67 prospective tenants at a branch seeking a new home to rent.

“Whilst it’s positive that the number of properties available per branch hit a record high, this may be the first signs of the industry consolidating ahead of the tenant fees ban as agents either sell-up or merge. This, coupled with landlords exiting the market and rent costs continuing to rise, means the overall picture is far from positive for renters,” said ARLA CEO David Cox. 

“The full effects of the tenant fees ban have not yet been felt, and now the government is introducing yet more new legislation which will deter new landlords from entering the market, such as abolishing Section 21. 

“Until we have greater clarity on the changes planned, this news will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing, meaning rents will only continue to rise for tenants.”

Read the full ARLA Private Rented Sector Report for March 2019

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