Landlords and property investors have taken a financial hit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as the number of letting agents witnessing rent increases hit an all-time low in May.
ARLA Propertymark's Private Rented Sector Report suggests that many landlords have chosen not to increase rents recently in an effort to recognise the financial difficulties facing the nation's tenants.
The number of tenants experiencing rent increases dropped to just 14% in May, the lowest figure recorded since records began. As a comparison, 41% of agents surveyed witnessed landlords increasing rent in February before the coronavirus lockdown.
Looking back to May 2019, some 45% of tenants experienced rent rises, according to ARLA Propertymark.
As well as landlords not increasing rents, many have given tenants rent reductions. The number of tenants negotiating rent reductions in May increased to 2.5%, the highest figure recorded since March 2019 (2.9%).
During May and due to the impact of lockdown, the average time properties were empty between tenancies increased to five weeks. This is the longest time rental properties have remained void between tenancies since records began.
When it comes to demand for rental properties, the number of new prospective tenants fell to 70 per letting agency branch in May, compared to 82 in February.
Despite this monthly drop, due to the level of pent-up demand during lockdown, the figure of 70 was the highest recorded for the month of May so far, following averages of 60 in May 2018 and 69 last year.
Following the reopening of the property market on May 13, the number of properties managed by letting agency branch increased to 208.
Pre-lockdown, the average number of properties managed per branch was 201, although the year-on-year figure remains the same.
"Landlords and agents have been taking the brunt of the pandemic," says David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark.
"They are aware of the financial difficulties facing tenants and have shown empathy with many landlords not increasing rents where they otherwise might have needed to."
"As we continue to move forward, it’s important that everyone aims to keep the rent flowing in order to sustain the market and help boost the economy following several months of uncertainty," he says.