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Who are our Tenants?

Tue 18 Jul 2017

Rental properties make up 20% of households and around 4.5m people in the UK. When thinking about investing in a Buy to Let or considering renting your property instead of selling, it’s useful to know about the Tenants – who is living in the Private Rental Sector (PRS)? 

Homelet, one of the largest tenant referencing companies in the UK recently carried out a Tenant Survey of 20,388 tenants and the results are interesting. 

The gender gap is small with 54% of renters being female and 45% male. The biggest age group is 31-40 followed by 26-30 years old; 34% of households are made up of a “couple with no children” and 22% with children.

The media often tell us that people move from one rental property to another due to the Landlord not wanting long term tenancies, however the survey told us over 62% of people moved because they wanted to and for 20% of people, it was their first rental.

Our own findings at Hunters show that over 80% of Tenants chose to move on from their rental property. Landlords who asked for possession of their property did so, in the main, due to rent arrears or selling.

As a reputable agent, we always like to gain feedback and our customer satisfaction rating from vendors and Landlords stands at 96%, but what do Tenants think of agents & Landlords? 72% were either very or quite happy.

The day to day responsibility of looking after a rental property lies with the Tenants (i.e. changing lightbulbs and checking fuses) but a Landlord has legal obligations to maintain its safety etc.  The survey demonstrated that 85% of Tenants were "very/quite or somewhat" happy with the standard of their rented home which is comparable to the results from 2015. As an agent, we are always on hand to assist with guidance on maintaining the property and who is responsible.

Renting offers flexibility for Tenants and Landlords and can be a lifestyle choice, helpful when changing jobs or for those with a growing family. 26% replied that flexibility was the thing they liked most and 15% quoted ease of property maintenance. 23% of those who liked the flexibility were those with children and 31% were single occupiers.

Pets can often be a contentious issue but the survey told us that 33% of Tenants said they had no pets through choice but over 20% said they had a pet.

Renting is often an easy way to move into a home as buying requires more of a commitment, deposit and mortgage. However, some say renting has become too expensive – but how do the actual Tenants feel? 84.7% said their rent is ‘very’, ‘quite’ or ‘somewhat’ affordable with 56.3% in Greater London saying it is manageable.

For Agents and Landlords, it’s key to know what is a good investment and ideal property to let; this usually depends on areas. A City centre will appeal to a certain household versus properties near a school for example. For people with no children, the distance to work was the most important for 40% of people; 24% said parking was the main factor and with 70% saying that rental cost was the most important factor. For people with children the "cost" was highest chosen but local schools and parking was 2nd and 3rd.

But what of the future? Although renting is a lifestyle choice for some (65.4%), for others it’s a stepping stone – 33.5% of Tenants will look to move in the next 1-3 years and overall 68% said they’d plan to continue renting for a year or longer. Moving on means a deposit though, which is why rental cost is important – 46.7% of Tenants say they are saving for a deposit to buy a property but the main reason they have not moved yet is due to house prices and deposits.

Carrie Alliston, Head of lettings at Hunters, commented, “The results of this survey are interesting because it tells us what is happening in the real world. The Private Rental Sector is a key part of the housing needs of the population and renting is a great option. There is a historical expectation in the UK that we should all want to own our own home, but before we get there, if indeed we want to, renting a property offers a flexible, convenient stepping stone or even a lifestyle choice.”

For Investors and future investors, the feedback gathered by Homelet and Hunters is useful when thinking about the type of property and area to buy in.

If you would like advice about Lettings or property investment, please contact your local Hunters branch and ask for the Lettings specialists.

Click here to see our checklist of Landlords and Tenants rights and responsibilities.