As the housing market returns to life following the easing of Covid-related lockdown restrictions, there are strong indications that interest in the rental sector could surge in the weeks and months ahead.

One online property portal reported a jump in demand for property during the seven days after the lifting of the rules to allow viewings and house moves to take place, although many rules about hygiene and social distancing remain. And for anyone concerned about moving during lockdown, it’s up to the landlord to decide whether to agree a later moving date.

Sustained surge

This is not the only sign we’ve had of a potential surge in the sector. Even while the full restrictions were still in place, it was being reported that rental property demand had bounced back after initially dropping significantly.

In fact, the rental sector has grown pretty steadily over the last three years, and seen increasing demand coupled with dwindling supply.

A resilient, flexible sector

The coronavirus has not only affected the rental sector less than the sales market, it has also bounced back more quickly. At the same time, it’s more dynamic. Equally, given the currently still uncertain and rapidly changing economic climate, anyone with an immediate housing need may well turn to renting a property first while waiting to see how life post-lockdown unfolds.

What’s more, the sector’s flexibility has meant agents have continued to be able to complete rental contracts and delay moving-in dates, with terms agreed via virtual viewings. So the market has certainly not stayed stagnant during the lockdown.

Indeed, one industry insider has predicted that virtual viewings have become so popular recently that, over the next few years, physical visits could even become a thing of the past.

Given that it’s also easier and quicker to move into a new rented home, as opposed to the time it takes on average to complete a sale (a few weeks compared with, typically, a few months), activity levels are likely to rise at greater speed in the coming weeks and months.

Lifestyle trends, affordability, the employment market and flexibility all play their part in the popularity of this element of Britain’s housing landscape.

And, as renting increases in popularity, this can only make the market more attractive for buy-to-let investors as well, while mortgage interest rates remain at record lows.

Could money saved while working from home help?

Other research has found that, on average, commuters in the UK are saving £66 a month that would otherwise have been spent on the cost of getting to and from work each day. That adds up to almost £200 over three months, or nearly 20% of the average £1,107 rental deposit charged.

Equally, many may have saved money by not going out for meals and other social events, or spending less on leisure travel.

How we can help tenants and landlords

Neil Newstead, chief executive of Oakfield Estate Agents, says: “We’ve noticed a lot of interest in flats and houses to rent throughout the whole period of lockdown. And we’re expecting to stay particularly busy in this sector as we move through the summer. Virtual viewings have proved popular, indeed we reckon they could be here to stay as a simple, convenient way of searching for and securing your next home.

“We also understand that, now more than ever, people are keen to enjoy the flexibility of a rental property for their next move.

“Oakfield has many great properties available for rent now across Bexhill, Eastbourne and Hastings, from family homes to studio flats. And we’d be delighted to speak to landlords or prospective landlords wanting to let out a property.

“Make the most of our knowledge of local amenities such as schools, plus our extensive industry experience, and learn why Oakfield is the first port of call for so many people locally.”

Oakfield Estate Agents also holds the Arla Propertymark (from the Association of Residential Letting Agents) and belongs to the Property Ombudsman, giving tenants even greater peace of mind when renting a place through us.

Additionally, our website has a rent calculator allowing you to work out how much rent you can afford, either by inputting your annual income or rent on your chosen property.

What’s more, we’re able to replace the traditional deposit arrangement in some cases with our zero deposit scheme, costing the equivalent of just one week’s rent, so making for a cheaper move.

For landlords, we carry out thorough checks and have a stringent process of references to be sure tenants can afford to live in a particular property, and are who they say they are.

Finally, our specialist letting agents at our three branches know the local market inside out, and you’ll only deal with them each time to enjoy the consistency of having just one point of contact.

Browse the properties to rent on our website and find your next home via a virtual viewing in the first instance. And remember we’re here every step of the way for anyone looking to buy to let, or who has a flat or house to rent out already. Get in touch today.