A recent report suggests that rather than slowing down in the second half of the year, which is typical for the UK's lettings market, it's possible it could gain pace and 'explode quite quickly' once there's more certainty and lock down measures are eased and eventually removed.
The UK rental market tends to peak around July time and then once August is over there's traditionally less activity. However, due to the coronavirus-imposed lockdown measures, it's likely that pent-up activity will emerge as soon as its able to, leading to a busier second half of the year than usual.
Seasonal traditions shift amid coronavirus pandemic
In its latest assessment of the UK’s rental market, upmarket property management firm Knight Frank states that the Covid-19 pandemic will likely have a notable effect on both the sales and lettings markets in the UK. Specifically, where previously the peak of activity for rental demand is around August, due to the lockdown measures currently in place, this will likely shift to later in the year.
Indeed, rather than 2020 turning into an exceptionally quiet one for the rental market, the property expert anticipates pent up demand to move into and market rental properties, is building right now. Then, once lockdown restrictions begin to ease, that demand will translate into a super busy lettings market over a number of months, extending past the typical August peak.
“We’re preparing for a busier late summer period than normal,” says Gary Hall, head of lettings at Knight Frank. “The nature of the lettings market means it could explode quite quickly once restrictions are relaxed or lifted.”
In addition, other members of the Knight Frank lettings team describe there being “no sense of a permanent withdrawal” and “no lack of demand.”
That possibility of a busy lettings market into September and beyond could mean an extra busy time for some agents as student property activity is also typically busy during August and September. However, Knight Frank also notes that they are seeing some virtual agreements of student properties being made with international students. That’s something that could work out well for agents.
Landlords call for leeway on energy certificates
While the possibility of a positive future for the UK’s rental market is good news for some, pressing concerns over how properties in the lettings market can be safely maintained, remain. Among those concerns are the status of gas and electricity safe certificates.
The Government’s guidance calls for a common sense approach to maintenance requirements. However, while in some cases this means gas and electrical safety checks can be carried out to ensure properties are compliant with letting rules, in some situations this simply may not be possible.
With that in mind, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has called for a six-month extension on those safety certificates to give landlords and tenants the time to arrange for checks to be carried out in a way that is safe for the landlord, the engineer and the tenant. Such an extension would be in line with Government advice on vehicle MOT certificates.
“Whilst landlords should ensure that urgent work to ensure properties are safe for tenants is carried out, routine maintenance and checks need to be delayed to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said the NRLA’s Chief Executive, Ben Beadle. “Extending the life of gas and electrical safety certificates will protect landlords and tenants from unnecessary contact and provide landlords with legal protection from enforcement action where they are simply unable to get such work undertaken through no fault of their own.”
However, whether or not that is something the Government will endorse likely remains o their thoughts as to how long strict quarantine measures will remain in place.