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London rental stock falls below pre-pandemic levels

by LLP Editor
18th Jan 22 1:40 pm

The latest research by central London estate agency, Bective, has revealed how the rental market stock surplus spurred by pandemic uncertainty has started to subside, with prime London boroughs seeing some of the largest reductions in available stock.

Bective analysed the level of rental properties listed across each London borough and found that in the final quarter of last year, the capital’s rental stock level had fallen to its lowest point since the end of 2019 prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Just 32,120 rental properties were listed to let in the final quarter of 2021, down 69% on the previous year and 32% lower than the final quarter of 2019 prior to the pandemic.

London’s prime market has seen the largest reduction in rental stock availability when compared to pre-pandemic market conditions.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the level of rental stock available in the current market has halved compared to the final quarter of 2019, while the City of London has seen a -47% reduction, followed by Camden (-44%) and Westminster (-42%).

On an annual basis, it’s Islington that has seen the largest decline in rental stock, with 80% fewer available properties on the market compared to the later stages of 2020 when excess stock levels were at their highest.

The City of London again ranks high, with a 79% year on year drop, while Tower Hamlets and Hackney (-77%) have also seen some of the largest annual declines.

Bective’s Head of Lettings and Property Management, Tom Dainty, commented: “The London rental market has arguably faced one of the toughest times in living memory as the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions imposed by the government led to an exodus of tenant demand.

“The knock-on effect was a huge increase in rental stock throughout the second half of 2020 and even during the start of last year. This stock was simply surplus to requirements, with the level of available properties languishing on the market doubling compared to pre-pandemic levels and landlords having to dramatically cut their rental expectations “in order to secure a tenant.

The good news is that this abundance of stock has since subsided and not only are we in a far better place than a year ago, but we’ve also seen the level of available stock fall below pre-Covid market conditions.

“While this has been driven by the capital’s prime boroughs, it’s a trend that is predominant across every London borough and this bodes very well for the year ahead despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by Omicron and yet another stint of advice to work from home where possible.”

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