In doing so, Howsy has been able to identify where the hottest pockets of the rental market currently are and also where buy-to-let properties are flying off the shelves due to a combination of high tenant demand and lower levels of housing stock.
What are the most in-demand UK cities?
Newport is currently home to the highest level of tenant demand with 35% of all rented homes listed on the major portals already let in the Welsh city.
Rental properties in Bristol are also in high demand (34%), with Nottingham (33%), Cambridge (33%) and Belfast (25%) – all with strong student populations and a growing number of young professionals – completing the top five.
Plymouth (23%), Portsmouth (23%), Bournemouth (23%), Leicester (18%) and Manchester (18%) make up the top 10.
By contrast, Aberdeen remains the least sought-after area for rental properties in the UK, with tenant demand at 5%. This is closely followed by Swansea (8%) and Leeds (9%).
What about London?
In the capital, you must look to Bexley, Bromley, Sutton and Lewisham for the hottest boroughs for tenants in the first month of 2020, with 38% of all rental stock listed online already being snapped up.
Merton (32%), Croydon (31%), Greenwich (30%), Haringey (29%), Enfield (29%) and Kingston (27%) are also amongst the most popular.
On the other hand, the high financial barrier of rental costs is clear to see at the top end of the market, with Kensington and Chelsea (7%), Westminster (7%), Camden (11%), the City of London (12%) and Hammersmith and Fulham (13%) all ranking with the lowest number of properties let as a percentage of total properties listed.
“The buy-to-let sector may have had a rough ride of late but the UK rental market is still heavily relied upon by many in order to put a roof over their head and as a result, many cities still provide a great opportunity for buy-to-let investors due to the lower levels of available stock and consistently high tenant demand,” Calum Brannan, founder and chief executive of Howsy, said.
“When looking to invest, this combination of high demand, an affordable initial cost and a good rental yield should all be considered in order to maximise a return. For those that do their research and tick these boxes, bricks and mortar remains a very sound investment despite attempts to dampen the financial return via stamp duty hikes and changes to tax relief.”
He added: “Hopefully, a newly refreshed government will realise that the buy-to-let landlord is the backbone of the UK rental market and we need to encourage investment into the sector rather than deter it.”
Howsy, which was founded by Brannan in March 2016 and acquired online letting agent Urban.co.uk in September last year, provides end-to-end property management, from tenant find through to repairs management and renewals.