If you’re thinking of renting in Hertfordshire, or you’re a landlord in Hitchin, Biggleswade, Letchworth Garden City, Stevenage, Stotfold or Welwyn … read on! We’re seeing some interesting changes in the local rental market right now, which may well affect you.
Just a few months ago – in our July market insight report – we reflected on an incredibly high level of demand for rental properties of all shapes, sizes and locations.
But now autumn is creeping in, it’s all change again!
Earlier this year, it was very typical for properties to rent within days of coming to market, and we often had between 20 to 30 great prospective tenants to choose from.
This phenomenal demand has waned quite significantly over the past six weeks.
Since September, fewer people have been seeking rental properties in the local area, and at M A S O N S, a higher proportion of enquirers are being ruled out via our screening process – which flags up issues such as poor credit history, affordability or overcrowding – which suggests more affluent renters are choosing to stay put this autumn.
So, what does it all mean?
A drop in demand naturally results in some rental properties staying on the market longer. If landlords cannot rent a property, they’ll potentially consider dropping the monthly rent to entice more applicants. This downward trend is happening now:
- 25% of rental properties in Hitchin have been listed for over two months*
- 30% of rental properties in Hitchin have had a price reduction *
This pattern is replicated across the wider Hertfordshire rental market. For example, of 52 available rental properties in Stevenage, 11 have recently had a price reduction.
Whilst this might be worrying for landlords, it’s worth noting that in early 2023, we saw hugely inflated monthly rental fees – such as a 28.5% rent rise for a four-bed semi-detached property in Shefford. So, perhaps we’re now just seeing the market rebalance a little.
What should I do?
For landlords, falling local rent prices are a good reason to ensure that you:
- Research realistic market pricing (rather than copying inflated prices).
- Ensure properties are marketed to a high standard (to attract the best renters in a shrinking pool).
- Put contingency plans in place to protect against longer rent gaps between tenancies.
- Take out or review your existing rent and legal protection insurance policies. Overall, tenants are paying higher rents than ever before. Add this to higher food, fuel and general living costs, and the relative risk of a rent payment default naturally increases.
And for prospective tenants, the current drop in demand is potentially a little bit of good news. It means more choice and less pressure when searching for a suitable property. Plus, frozen or falling rental prices will make renting a little more affordable for some.
We keep an eye on local market trends as they unfold, and we’ll be happy to share our insights with you over the coming months; drop us a line at 01462 557 477 or [email protected].
M A S O N S is a leading letting agent in Hitchin, covering rental and buy-to-let properties in Hertfordshire and beyond. Founded on award-winning lettings experience, we specialise in property management, buy-to-let in Hitchin, and residential lettings.
*As of 17 October 2023.