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The number of new tenants registering for rental accommodation exceeded 200,000 last year as demand reached record levels in 2010, reported the UK’s largest lettings agent Countrywide. According to Countrywide’s latest figures, the overall volume of new tenant applications increased by 37% in 2010 compared to 2009, with demand peaking between July and September.
In contrast, the average number of properties available to let fell by 29% last year, compared to the year before. Countrywide reported that the biggest area of lending growth was for buy-to-let mortgages with applications jumping 22%. Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, said that the problems home buyers are experiencing getting mortgages finance will mean more people turn to the rental sector.
“Despite the increase in buy-to-let lending, supply remains significantly lower than demand, with an average of 4.5 tenants vying for every available property in 2010. During 2009 there were 2.3 tenants for every available rental property, which demonstrates the upward shift in demand we’re experiencing,” he explained.
He warned that this could reach critical levels with limited mortgage availability continuing to stifle the market and the Government’s austerity measures on social housing and employment set to take effect. Turner added that despite the adverse weather conditions during Christmas period, a new wave of committed house sellers registered their homes for sale during December. New sales instructions outperformed December 2009 levels by 2.6% – an overall increase of 9% during 2010. However, buyer enquiries fell 5% year-on-year, which could be attributed to the chronic lack of mortgage funding for those unable to afford a typical deposit of 22%.