Big rise in rental housing demand

FAMILIES relocating from the UK and summer workers have resulted in a boom in demand for rental property, leading to a call for more in the sector.

(Picture by Steve Sarre, 20857300)
(Picture by Steve Sarre, 20857300)

Estate agents said they had seen a steady increase in the demand for rental properties in the last few years.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of rented units on the local market rose from 6,327 to 6,982, while owner occupied units grew only marginally from 14,985 to 15,070.

States figures also show that 22.2% of the population, 13,809 people, now live in the private rental sector and that it has become more affordable to do so, with the annual rent to earnings ratio falling from 0.51 in 2012 to 0.45 in 2016.

Rental prices have fallen by 3.1% in the five years ending 2016.

Cooper Brouard director and negotiator Cathy Gallienne said it had hired new staff recently to help with the growing workload.

‘We are extremely busy and proactive, matching properties with prospective tenants before rentals sometimes reach the market and therefore are constantly requiring new properties,’ she said.

Swoffers lettings and property management department manager Ross Yeates said family homes were particularly popular.

‘What we have seen is an increase in the amount of families relocating from the UK and further overseas, both on the local – via a work permit – and open markets,’ he said.

‘This has, in turn, led to a demand for two or more bedroom rental properties ranging from £1,400 and above.

‘At the same time, we have also seen more local families renting, either because they can’t afford to buy at this time or because they are between houses and want to wait until house prices have stabilised before jumping back into the market.’

A Martel Maides spokeswoman said it had seen the usual fluctuations in the rental properties on its books, but needed more higher end properties.

‘It’s also noticeable that people relocating to the island usually like to be based centrally before moving out to other parishes,’ she said.

Despite it appearing the open market was doing well, Martel Maides director Richard Fox said the new population management law has meant people have been moving out of open market rental properties and into the local market on short-term employment permits. This has seen the open market rentals dwindle.

‘If this trend continues it will not only continue to deflate open market values, but demand will, conversely, start to drive up local market prices,’ he said.

Each estate agent asked said that their main advice to landlords was to keep prices realistic or cap rents to try and get tenants to stay longer term and not have properties vacant.

Mr Yeates said: ‘If the demand for family homes goes up then theoretically yes, rents could increase. However we always advise our landlords to tread carefully in this respect to avoid unnecessary void periods.

‘If they were to go up, it is likely to be minimal at this time.’

The Martel Maides spokeswoman said the company had noticed that as soon as demand slackened off then experienced landlords tended to cap the rent and forego increases, in an effort to ensure that existing tenants stayed.

All estate agents agreed that the sales market had a minimal effect on rental prices.

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