i news speaks to landlords, housing experts and renters to find out what the impact of Brexit could be on the rental market.
The uncertainty of Brexit is already having an impact on house prices, with prices falling in London and declining slightly elsewhere in the south-east and east of England. But what about the private rented sector? The number of renters in this country is growing. Around a fifth of the UK’s population now rents from a private landlord and there is nothing that strikes fear into the heart of a tenant than the fear their landlord is going to put their rent up. You can keep the place as clean as you like, but a rent rise at some point in the future is often inevitable
Last year, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) warned rents will continue to rise over the next 15 years, climbing by as much as 15 per cent. The RICS attributed this to a ‘dwindling’ supply of rented accommodation being met with increased demand from tenants who cannot afford to buy homes of their own. RICS said smaller landlords who own a few properties, in particular, were being hit by tax changes which have made owning a buy-to-let property less lucrative.
However, the latest data shows rents across Britain actually fell for the first time in a decade last year. The biggest falls were in Yorkshire and Humber, where rents dropped by £21 (3.63 per cent), and London, where rents were down by £30 per month from 2018. How Brexit will affect renters really depends on two things: your landlord and whereabouts you live in the country.
Flic is a 28-year-old speech and language student who lives in Reading. A few weeks ago, she was told her landlord wanted to put her rent up by £20 a month, taking the monthly total she pays before bills to £700. When Flic asked the letting agent to explain why she was now having to pay an extra £240 a year, they said it was down to Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line coming to Reading, “and the financial implications of Brexit”. She pressed them further, trying to find out exactly how Britain’s exit from the EU was impacting her rent and was told it was to “cover costs”
‘Greed and opportunism’ But what costs could a landlord be incurring because of Brexit right now? Housing market analyst Henry Pryor can think of “no credible circumstance that a landlord could use to push up rent other than greed and opportunism.” He tells i: “Brexit is a distraction and not something that is going to have a direct and measurable impact on the lettings market.”
Mr Pryor adds: “Brexit is a convenient excuse for those who don’t really know what is happening in the housing market to pretend that they do. Whatever your thoughts, however you voted, whatever your own solutions, whilst worrying and even regrettable perhaps, Brexit is not making waves in the lettings market and is unlikely to.
“There may be other things that do come to affect supply and demand – such as tax changes and new regulations like the ban on letting fees – but they are a long way down the road.” While Brexit might not be a “legitimate” reason to raise rents in Mr Pryor’s eyes, that doesn’t mean it’s not a factor.