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Which rental hotspots are tenants searching for during lockdown?

Prospective renters searching for new properties while at home during lockdown are focusing their attentions on areas with rivers or near the coast, according to Rightmove.

Its analysis shows that Southsea in Hampshire tops the list for the biggest rise in searches between the first two weeks of lockdown and the second two weeks.

The top three is made up by Cambridge and Worthing in Sussex. Other scenic river or coastal locations in the top ten are Marlow in Buckinghamshire, Bognor Regis in Sussex, Dover in Kent, Southend in Essex and Margate, also in Kent.


With only essential moves possible in the rental market at the moment, Rightmove reports that while activity has understandably dropped, it has been slowly recovering in the last few weeks.

Total rental searches dropped 35% at the start of the lockdown period, since recovering to just 20% down now.

The portal says there is momentum building for renting homes with a garden, for obvious reason. Over the last week, property hunters looking for a garden almost doubled compared to the first week of lockdown.

Over a longer period of comparison, searches for rental homes with gardens are 26% higher than the same week last year and 16% higher than in January and February 2020.

When it comes to available stock, Rightmove says there were 2.6% more properties in the second two weeks of lockdown compared to the first two weeks. It suggests that some letting agents have been re-listing properties they've previously let to line up new tenants for when restrictions on movement are lifted.

"Having a garden is often a rarity for many rental properties in larger cities, and so it may be that during lockdown people are rethinking their needs and location and are searching for some outdoor space and tranquillity," says Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director and housing market analyst.

"That allure may draw them further away from where they have habitually lived and travelled to work from, as can be seen by some of the coastal locations that have seen the largest search increases."

Shipside says letting agencies are helping landlords to line up new tenants to view properties when restrictions are lifted but that there is a lower level of referencing taking place.

"Those properties with a garden are likely to be able to fill any landlord voids more quickly post lockdown. Understandably most of the rental market has hit the pause button right now except where there are essential moves taking place, and so we haven’t seen an indication of price movements yet."

"If there is a spike in demand that exceeds supply when lockdown ends this may underpin rental prices," he explains.


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